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THIS book consists of verbatim 
reports of the proceedings of 
the Krasnodar and Kharkov 
Nazi Atrocity Trials, which 
were held in July, 1943, and 
December, 1943, respectively. 

These trials in addition to 
disclosing the facts of torture 
and murder by the Nazis of 
tens of thousands of Soviet 
citizens, also reveals the use of 
the Gestapo’s “murder vans” 
— for the mass extermination 
of Soviet citizens, men, women 
and children and infants in 
arms. 

Reports include the state- 
ments of the accused and the 
evidence of the Soviet medical 
experts. 






I 



The People’s Verdict 



The People’s Verdict 

A full Report of the Proceedings at the 

KRASNODAR and KHARKOV 

GERMAN ATROCITY TRIALS 



Illustrated 



HUTCHINSON &■ CO. (Publishers) LTD. 

LONDON NEW YORK : MELBOURNE 



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BOOK 

PRODUCTION 
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THIS BOOK IS PRODUCED IN 
COA1PLETE CONFORMITY WITH THE 
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MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN AT 
THE FLEET STREET PRESS 
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CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Krasnodar Trial 7 

Kharkov Trial .45 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

KRASNODAR TRIAL facing 

PAGE 

The Hall in which the Trial was Held .... 16 

Prominent Soviet Citizens at the Trial (in the centre, Alexei 
Tolstoi) 17 

Dead Bodies of Soviet Citizens Shot by the Germans . 32 

Dr. P. S. Semenovsky, a Member of the Committee of Experts, 
Examining the Body of a Child Brutally Murdered by 

the German Fascist Invaders .33 

The Accused 40 

Soviet Citizens Demanding Stern Retribution . . .41 

KHARKOV TRIAL 

Members of the Tribunal 80 

The Accused 81 

Dead Bodies of Soviet Civilians Discovered in the Grounds 

of the Kharkov Tractor Works 96 

Bodies of Soviet Citizens who had been Shot in the Park 
of Culture 97 



THE TRIAL 



In the Case of the Atrocities Committed by the German 
Fascist Invaders and their Accomplices in 
KRASNODAR and KRASNODAR TERRITORY 

July 14 to 17, 1943 



ON 14th JULY, 1943, IN THE CITY OF KRASNODAR, IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS, 
the trial was opened before a Military Tribunal presided over by 
Justiciary Colonel N. Y. Mayorov , President of the Military Tribunal 
of the North Caucasian Front, of the case of the atrocities perpetrated 
by the German fascist invaders and their accomplices in the area of 
the city of Krasnodar and the Krasnodar Territory during the period 
of their temporary occupation. Justiciary Major General L. 7. Yachenin 
acted as State Prosecutor. 

The defendants in the case were: 7. Kladov , 7. KotomtseVy M. 
Lastovina, G. Misan , Y. Naptsoky V. Pavlov , 7. Paramonov , N. Push - 
kareVy 7. Rechkalov, V. Tishchenko and G. Tuchkov. They were 
charged with committing crimes covered by Articles 58-1 a and 
51-1 b of the Criminal Code of the R.S.F.S.R., i.e., treason to the 
country. 

The accused were defended by Advocates A. I. Nazarevsky, 
V. 7. Yakunenko and S. K. Kaznacheyev as appointed by the court. 

The morning session on the 14th was taken up with the pre- 
liminary formalities. At the afternoon session the indictment was 
read and before the court there was unfolded a frightful picture of 
the wholesale murder of innocent Soviet citizens who were killed in 
thousands by the German fascist invaders during their temporary 
occupation of the Krasnodar Territory. 

The preliminary investigation, the indictment stated, had revealed 
that all these acts of murder, outrage, violence and plunder were 
committed by the punitive units of the German 17th Army, com- 
manded by Colonel General Ruoff. 

The immediate supervision and execution of all these acts of 
brutality were vested in the Krasnodar Gestapo, headed by the 
German Chief of the Gestapo, Colonel Christmann. 

1 



8 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



The Gestapo had under its command a special punitive unit of 
the Secret Police called the Sonderkommando SS-\Q-a, which was 
immediately responsible for the perpetration of all the atrocities. 

The investigation revealed that persons under arrest were tortured 
and that prisoners confined in the cellar of the Krasnodar Gestapo 
were burnt to death; that patients in the Krasnodar Municipal 
Hospital, at the Berezansk Medical Colony and also in the Territory 
Children’s Hospital at Tretya Rechka Kochety Farm, in the Ust- 
Labinskaya District, were killed wholesale. 

Lastly, the investigation revealed that many thousands of Soviet 
citizens were put to death by asphyxiation by means of carbon 
monoxide in motor vehicles specially equipped for this purpose, 
known as “murder vans.” 

The Sonderkommando SS-\0-a was a punitive unit of the 
Gestapo, numbering about 200 men. The head of this Sonder- 
kommando was Colonel Christmann , a German, Chief of the Gestapo. 
His immediate assistants in the work of exterminating Soviet citizens 
were the German officers: Rabbe, Boss , Sargo , Salge, Hahn , Erich 
Meier , Paschen, Winz and Hans Munster , the German Army Surgeons 
in the prison and the Gestapo, Herz and Schuster and also officials 
of the Gestapo, the interpreters Jakob Eicks and Scherterlan. 

Furthermore, the following traitors, now before the court as 
defendants in the case, were recruited by the Gestapo and participated 
in the perpetration of all the aforementioned atrocities : V. Tishchenko, 
G. Tuchkov, I. Rechkalov, M. Lastovina, N. Pushkarev, G. Misan, 
J. Naptsok , I. Paramonov , 7. Kotomtsev, V. Pavlov and 7. Kladov. 

The investigation revealed the following definite cases of atrocities 
perpetrated by the German fascist invaders in the Krasnodar 
Territory : 

Soon after the occupation of Krasnodar, the cellar of the 
Krasnodar Gestapo was crammed with prisoners as a result of syste- 
matic raids upon and the wholesale arrest of the peaceful inhabitants. 
No investigation whatever was made into the cases of the hundreds 
and thousands of innocent people thus arrested. The latter were 
subjected to the most brutal violence and torture. Their fate was 
decided arbitrarily by Colonel Christmann , Chief of the Gestapo, 
who personally issued the orders for their physical extermination. 

In the autumn of 1942, the Germans began to utilize specially 
equipped motor vehicles, which the population called “murder vans,” 
for the purpose of doing away with Soviet citizens. 

These “murder vans” were covered five-ton or seven-ton grey- 
painted motor trucks, driven by Diesel engines. The interior of 
these vans was lined with zinc-plated sheet iron. At the back they 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



9 



had double doors which closed hermetically. The floor consisted of 
a grating, beneath which there was a pipe that was connected with 
the exhaust pipe of the engine. The exhaust gas from the Diesel engine, 
which contained a high concentration of carbon monoxide, penetrated 
the interior of the van, causing the rapid poisoning and death from 
asphyxiation of the prisoners confined in it. 

Several times a week, and in January, before the Germans retreated 
from Krasnodar, two and three times a day, the “murder vans” were 
filled with people confined in the cellar of the Gestapo, which was 
situated in 61 Orjonikidze Street. The loading of the vans was 
usually supervised by Captain Rabbe, Deputy Chief of the Gestapo 
and Governor of the Gestapo prison. Before being dragged from the 
cellar the prisoners were stripped of their clothing; then they were 
bundled into the “murder van,” 60 to 80 at a time. The doors of 
the van were then hermetically closed and the engine started. After 
standing with the engine running for several minutes, the van would 
drive to an anti-tank trench which had been dug outside the Measuring 
Instruments Factory on the outskirts of Krasnodar. As a rule, the 
murder vans were escorted by a convoy of police from the Sonder- 
kommando SS-lO-a. By the time the vans reached the anti-tank 
trench the people were asphyxiated by the gas. The bodies were 
flung into the trench and buried. Men, women and children were 
bundled into the van without discrimination. 

In the course of time, in spite of the efforts the Germans made 
to keep this fiendish method of exterminating Soviet citizens a secret, 
the inhabitants living in the neighbourhood of the Gestapo premises, 
and, through them, the entire population, learned of the use to which 
these vans were being put. 

The prisoners in the cellar of the Gestapo also learned of the 
purpose of the “murder vans,” and on being loaded into them they 
offered resistance. At the time of loading the courtyard of the 
Gestapo premises echoed with their shrieks and wailing. Owing to 
this they were seized and dragged into the van by force. Soon after 
the engine was started the shrieks of these unfortunate people gradually 
subsided as they succumbed to the gases. 

Yevdokia Fedorovna Gazhik , who, one day, witnessed the forcible 
loading into the “murder van” of an arrested woman and her five- 
year-old daughter, stated as follows : 

“Into this ‘motor bus’ the Gestapo men were forcibly dragging 
a woman about thirty years of age. The woman refused to go 
into the van, resisted, and all the time tried to reach a little girl 
behind her, four or five years old, who was crying: ‘Mummy, 
Mummy, I want to ride with you.’ Unable to subdue the arrested 



10 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



woman, one of the Gestapo men seized the little girl and smeared 
her lips and nose with a thick black liquid. The child instantly 
fell unconscious. The Gestapo man picked her up and threw her 
into the van. On seeing this, the mother uttered a wild shriek 
and rushed at the Gestapo man. After struggling with the woman 
for several seconds the Gestapo man succeeded in overpowering 
her and dragged her into the van.” 

Not only prisoners, but people indiscriminately seized in the 
streets during wholesale raids were also put to death in the “murder 
vans.” 

When the anti-tank trenches were dug up, among the victims of 
the fascist fiends were found bodies clutching baskets and other 
receptacles with which these unfortunate people were going to town, 
to the market, and so forth. When the anti-tank trench in the region 
of State Farm No. 1 was dug up, many corpses were found which 
were afterwards identified by their relatives. 

Thus, Nikolai Kuzmich Kolomyitsev , an inhabitant of the city 
of Krasnodar, identified the body of his wife, Raissa Ivanovna Kolo- 
myitseva, whom the Gestapo had arrested on 2nd February, 1943. 
Vassily Nikolayevich Petrenko , a worker employed at the Krasnolit 
Works, identified the bodies of his wife, Vera Zinovyevna, of his son 
Yuri, seven years of age, and of his daughter Inna, three years of age. 
Petrenko’s wife and children were also arrested on 2nd February, 
1943. Father Ilyashev, priest of St. George’s Church in the city of 
Krasnodar, personally identified Cyril Lugansky, Vladimir Golovaty 
and other inhabitants of the city of Krasnodar whom he had known. 

In August, 1942, the Surgeon of the Gestapo, the German Herz, 
came to the Municipal Hospital in Krasnodar and inquired how many 
patients there were in the hospital. Shortly afterwards Herz visited 
the hospital again, accompanied by several German army officers, 
who inspected the hospital and then drove away again. 

On 22nd August, Herz presented himself to Dr. Bashlayev, the 
head doctor of the hospital, and informed him and the other doctors 
that, in conformity with the orders received from the German Com- 
mand, the patients were to be “removed” from the hospital. Shortly 
afterwards a “murder van” arrived and patients were forcibly bundled 
into it. 

On the first occasion about eighty patients were loaded in the 
van, which drove away and soon returned. In the course of the next 
two hours the van made four journeys and carted away over 300 
patients, all of whom were killed by the method described above, and 
their bodies flung into the anti-tank trench near the Measuring 
Instruments Factory. 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



11 



The above facts were established by the depositions of witnesses 
Makarov , Kantonistov, Mokhno , and others. 

Thus, the witness Mokhno stated as follows : 

“After making several journeys, this same machine came to 
the building where the male patients lay. An order was received 
from the German officer to undress all the men who were capable 
of moving about, and to take them out to the van. Here, too, 
the patients raised a din with their groaning and shrieking, but the 
Germans brutally seized them and pushed them into the van. 
The gravely sick patients were brought out on stretchers and the 
Germans flung them into the van, too.” 

One day Ivan Ivanovich Kotov , an inhabitant of the city of 
Krasnodar, who had been discharged from this hospital long ago, 
came for a certificate just at the time when patients were being loaded 
into the van. One of the German officers who was supervising the 
loading caught sight of Kotov, seized him and pushed him into the 
“murder van.” When the doors were closed and the van started off, 
Kotov, feeling that he was being asphyxiated, tore his shirt off his back 
and moistening it with his own urine put it to his mouth and nose. 
After a while he lost consciousness. When he came to he found 
himself in an anti-tank trench among dead bodies which had been 
haphazardly flung into the trench. He climbed out and returned 
home. 

During the preliminary investigation Kotov stated as follows : 

“. . . A German who was standing near the car rushed at 
me shouting something I could not understand, seized me by the 
collar of my coat and pushed me into the van. When I got in 
I found a lot of people there. How many I cannot say. There 
were men and women. The van was packed. The people were 
standing pressed close against each other. The van was filled 
with groans, shrieks and wailing. The people were in a frenzy, 
for they had a presentiment that the German barbarians intended 
to subject them to frightful torture and death. After me another 
five persons were pushed into the van, after which the doors were 
slammed to and several minutes later it moved off. While it was 
in motion I felt that I was beginning to choke. I tore my shirt 
from my back, moistened it with my urine and put it over my 
mouth and nose. At once I felt some relief.” 

After the patients at the Krasnodar Hospital had been exterminated, 
only one ward with twenty beds was left for new patients. As a matter 
of fact this ward was nothing more than a trap, for Herz, the Gestapo 
surgeon, made two visits to the hospital for the new patients who had 
been placed in this ward and took them away in a “murder van.” 



12 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



On 5th September, 1942, this same Herz, Surgeon of the Gestapo, 
arrived at the Berezansk Medical Colony and informed the medical 
superintendent, Dr. Kireyev , in the presence of Dr. Shapovalova , that 
the van would arrive on 7th September to take the patients away, 
also to be exterminated. Dr. Kireyev begged Herz to leave at least 
the convalescents who were working in the vegetable plot. Herz 
consented and gave orders that the convalescents be put into a separate 
building. On the morning of 7th September a “murder van” arrived 
at the colony and the Germans, stripping the women patients naked, 
loaded them into it. Many of the patients tried to resist, but they 
were dragged into the “murder van” by force. 

In all 320 patients were taken from the Berezansk Colony and put 
to death in this manner. Their bodies were thrown into an anti-tank 
trench which was situated five kilometres from the colony. 

Several days later, a group of Germans, headed by an officer of 
the Gestapo named Hans Munster , arrived at the colony and took 
away everything of value as well as all the stocks of provisions. 

In October, 1942, seventeen patients arrived at the colony from 
Krasnodar, and these, too, were subsequently put to death in a 
“murder van.” As for the convalescents who were allowed to 
remain by Herz’s permission, on 20th October, 1942, sixty of them 
were bundled into a motor truck by order of Hans Munster and taken 
to an anti-tank trench, where they were shot. Just before the shooting, 
a woman patient named Marusya cried out in frenzy: “Our men 
will come and avenge us!” Munster beat this sick woman about the 
face and head with the butt of a rifle until she was covered with blood. 
Another patient named Dobuntsov tried to run away, but was killed 
by a rifle shot. 

In September, 1942, the Germans in the same manner organized 
the massacre of sick children in the Children’s Hospital situated in 
Tretya Rechka Kochety Farm, Ust-Labinskaya District, Krasnodar 
Territory. In this hospital, Erich Meier, an officer of the Gestapo, 
and Jakob Eicks, an interpreter, took up their quarters. 

On 21st September, 1942, Surgeon Herz and several other Germans 
arrived at the hospital in a passenger car accompanied by a “murder 
van,.” Forty-two sick children, dressed only in singlets and shorts, 
were bundled into the “murder van” and taken away and killed in the 
manner described above. The bodies of these little children were 
flung into a large pit which had been dug specially for the purpose 
in the vicinity of Chernyshevka Farm by the local inhabitants by order 
of Meier and Eicks, ostensibly as an anti-aircraft gun position. 

In the course of the preliminary investigation of this case, pits 
containing the bodies of the victims of the German fascist monsters 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



13 



were dug up at thirteen places. Of the vast number of bodies found 
in these places, 623 were examined by medical experts. Of these 
bodies 85 were children, 256 women and 282 men, 198 being of 
advanced age. 

On the basis of the thorough medical, chemical and spectroscopic 
investigation which was carried out, a Committee of Experts consisting 
of Dr. V. I. Prozorovsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s 
Commissariat of Public Health of the U.S.S.R. ; V. M. Smolyaninov , 
Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Public 
Health of the R.S.F.S.R. ; Professor M. I. Avdey ev, D. M. Sc., Chief 
Medico-Legal Expert of the Red Army; Dr. P. S. Semenov sky. 
Consulting Physician of the Moscow City Medico-Legal Experts’ 
Department; and S. M. Sokolov , court chemist, arrived at the con- 
clusion that the cause of death in 523 of the cases examined was 
carbon monoxide poisoning, and that in 100 cases death was due to 
firearm wounds inflicted, in the majority of cases, in the head. 

In their report the Committee of Experts stated that the carbon 
monoxide could undoubtedly have had lethal effect if the waste gases 
from the Diesel engine penetrated the closed van. 

The Commission stated : 

“If the outlet for the carbon monoxide (including waste gases) 
is in closed premises, the concentration of carbon monoxide in 
those premises increases very rapidly and may cause death even 
in the course of a few minutes (from five to ten).” 

Thus, the report of the medical investigation fully confirmed the 
data obtained during the preliminary investigation concerning the 
wholesale and brutal extermination by the Gestapo of Soviet citizens 
held in custody by the Krasnodar Gestapo and also of other peaceful 
inhabitants, adults and children, lying as patients in the Krasnodar 
Hospital, the Berezansk Medical Colony and in the Territory Children’s 
Hospital. 

The total number of the Soviet citizens asphyxiated in “murder 
vans” is 7,000. 

The indictment also enumerated the established circumstances 
of the wholesale arrest and torture of Soviet citizens at the head- 
quarters of the Krasnodar Gestapo. 

In the cellar of the Gestapo premises, the prisoners were beaten 
every day. The officials of the Gestapo brutally assaulted them with 
ramrods and clubs, kicked them, stuck pins into the quick of then- 
nails, and so forth. After these tortures the prisoners were flung 
into their cells in a state of unconsciousness, disfigured beyond 
recognition. 

Particularly ferocious in torturing the prisoners were Colonel 



14 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Christmann, Chief of the Krasnodar Gestapo, and Herz, the Surgeon 
of the Gestapo. The witness Miroshnikova , who had been held at 
the Gestapo premises for some time, stated as follows : 

“While I was in cell 1-1 at the Krasnodar Gestapo I saw Vera 
Bronnik, Irina Yatsenko, Grunya Grigoryeva, and a number of 
other Soviet girls and women return to the cell after interrogation 
in a battered condition. They told me that the officers of the 
Gestapo had stripped them naked and had flogged them and 
kicked them. Some of them were raped while under interrogation. 
When they returned to the cell the girls were covered with bruises 
and weals crusted with dried blood. Some of them, while in 
this state, were thrown into solitary confinement cells, where they 
were kept without water, or given salt water to drink.” 

According to the statements of the witness Gazhik , shrieks for 
help were constantly heard from the cellar where the prisoners were 
kept. Often she heard the prisoners shouting: “Give me a drop of 
water, or at least a crust of bread. The children are dying!” 

Before their flight from the city of Krasnodar owing to the advance 
of the Red Army the Gestapo committed another fiendish deed. 

On 10th February, 1943, the premises of the Gestapo were set 
on fire by a detachment of the Sonderkommando SS-10-a led by 
an officer named Hahn. The rapid spread of the flames and the 
explosion of mines which had been placed in the premises prevented 
the saving of the prisoners from the burning building. Only one 
prisoner managed to escape from the flames, but it was impossible 
to ascertain who he was as he died soon after as a result of the tortures 
to which he had been subjected and of the bums he had received in 
the fire. This was confirmed by the statements of the witnesses 
Rozhkova, Dobrova and Gazhik, and by defendant Pushkarev. 

The total number of arrested Soviet citizens who died a painful 
death in the fire at the premises of the Gestapo is 300. Some of the 
charred bodies subsequently found in the cellar of the Gestapo premises 
bore traces of fiendish torture and torment. Thus, the body of an 
unidentified male of middle age was found with the hands lopped off. 

In their bmtal efforts to destroy as many Soviet citizens as possible, 
the German fascist gangsters did not hesitate to resort to the vilest 
tricks. One day, for example, the inhabitants of the city were 
informed that tripe would be on sale in the New Market. The 
inhabitants believed this announcement and gathered in the market. 
Instead of stalls selling tripe, they found a covered motor truck filled 
with police and German soldiers guarding an unidentified sailor of 
the Red Navy. In the presence of the crowd this sailor was hanged 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



15 



on a post. As the noose was being put round his neck the sailor cried 
out to the weeping crowd : 

“Don’t weep! These butchers of the people will answer for 
this with thousands of their lives. Our men will be here soon 
and will avenge all this!” 

On another occasion the German Command announced to the 
inhabitants of the city that several thousand Red Army prisoners of 
war would be led through the city and that the inhabitants would be 
permitted to give them food. A large number of the inhabitants of 
Krasnodar came into the streets expecting to meet the prisoners and 
brought small parcels of food with them. But instead of Soviet 
prisoners of war they found motor trucks filled with German wounded 
soldiers and, as the trucks drew near, a German cinema operator 
photographed the scene to produce a picture which the German 
provocateurs intended to use to illustrate how Soviet citizens “wel- 
comed” German soldiers. 

Summing up the fiendish crimes established by the investigation, 
the indictment stated that the entire responsibility for the atrocities 
and crimes perpetrated during the period of the occupation of the 
city of Krasnodar and the Krasnodar Territory, responsibility for the 
torture and torment, for the wholesale shooting and fiendish exter- 
mination with the aid of asphyxiating gases in specially constructed 
vehicles, for the burning and other methods of murdering absolutely 
innocent Soviet citizens, including the aged, women and children, 
rested upon the heads of the piratical fascist Government of Germany 
and the German High Command, and, in particular, on the Com- 
mander of the 17th Army, Colonel General Ruoff, and also on the 
immediate executors of these fiendish deeds, viz. : 

Christmann — Colonel, Chief of the Krasnodar Gestapo, 

Rabbe — Captain, Deputy Chief of the Gestapo, 

Salge — Officer of the Gestapo, 

Sargo — Officer of the Gestapo, 

Paschen — Officer of the Gestapo, 

Boss — Officer of the Gestapo, 

Winz — Investigator of the Gestapo, 

Hahn— Officer of the Gestapo, 

Hans Miinster — Officer of the Gestapo, 

Erich Meier — Officer of the Gestapo, 

Herz — Surgeon of the Gestapo, 

Schuster — Surgeon of the Gestapo, 

Jakob Eicks — Official of the Gestapo, 

Scherterlan— Official of the Gestapo. 

In addition, the following were charged with complicity in all 



16 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



these atrocities and crimes and had been brought into the case as 
defendants: V. Tishchenko , G. Tuchkov, I. Rechkalov , M. Lastovina , 
N. Pushkarev , G. Misan , /. Naptsok, I. Paramonov, I. Kotomtsev, 
V. Pavlov and 7 . Kladov. 

All the accused pleaded guilty to the charges brought against 
them. During the preliminary investigation they had given detailed 
evidence of their treasonable activities and of the part they had 
played in the atrocities committed by the German fascist invaders. 

The reading of the indictment was followed by a brief adjournment, 
after which the Military Tribunal proceeded to examine the defendants. 
The first to be examined was Tishchenko who, in answer to the 
questions put to him, admitted that he had treasonably, and of his 
own accord, joined the German Police Force in the occupied region 
and had been promoted to the rank of Police Inspector. Later he 
was transferred to the Gestapo, where he first served as a Sergeant- 
major in the Sonderkommando and then as a Gestapo investigator. 

The State Prosecutor, Justice Major General Yachenin, requested 
the defendant to describe the Gestapo’s method of operations. 
Tishchenko confessed that it was a method of savage and unbridled 
tyranny and the wholesale extermination of Soviet citizens. 

The State Prosecutor: “Describe this more definitely, and in 
greater detail.” 

Tishchenko : “No charges were levelled against persons arrested 
by the Gestapo, no witnesses were called and no confrontations were 
arranged. The officers who interrogated the prisoners were always 
drunk. They flogged the prisoners with ramrods, clubs and whips, 
kicked them with their hobnailed boots, and tore out their hair and 
their finger nails. Christmann, Rabbe, Salge, Sargo and other 
officers raped arrested women.” 

The State Prosecutor : “Was that a regular practice ?” 

Tishchenko : “Yes, a regular practice.” 

Proceeding with his evidence Tishchenko, while doing his utmost 
to minimize the part he had played, admitted that he had personally 
assaulted prisoners, and that, on reports which he had sent in, the 
Soviet citizens Sarkissov and Patushinsky were shot by the Gestapo, 
while others were sent to a concentration camp. 

The accused was questioned about the “murder vans,” i.e., the 
motor vehicles specially equipped for the purpose of brutally putting 
Soviet citizens to death. Tishchenko answered in great detail showing 
that he was quite familiar with the whole business. These vans 
were five-ton or seven-ton motor trucks, he said, with bodies built 
over them. These had double walls and false windows which gave 




The Hall in which the Trial was held 





Prominent Soviet citizens at the trial. In the centre Alexei Tolstoy 




KRASNODAR TRIAL 



17 



them the appearance of motor buses. At the rear of each vehicle 
there was a door which closed hermetically. The floor consisted of 
a grating under which ran the exhaust pipe from the Diesel engine by 
which the vehicle was driven. The exhaust gas penetrated the interior 
of the vehicle. When the vehicle was standing with the engine 
running, death ensued within seven minutes ; when it was in motion 
death ensued in ten minutes. The prisoners learned that a horrible 
death awaited them in these vans and, therefore, strongly resisted 
when they were being forced into them and shouted for help. When 
that happened the Gestapo officials grabbed their victims and bundled 
them into the vans by main force. The loading of these “murder 
vans” was usually supervised by Colonel Christmann, Chief of the 
Gestapo, Rabbe, and other German officers. Tishchenko stated that 
one day he was present when 67 adults and 18 children were bundled 
into a “murder van.” 

The State Prosecutor inquired about the ages of the children. 
Tishchenko answered: “From one to five years.” At this reply a 
gasp of horror went up from the public in the hall. 

Both the President of the Tribunal and the State Prosecutor tried 
to elicit from Tishchenko how he came to be promoted so rapidly to 
Police Inspector, Sergeant-major in the Sonderkommando and then 
to Investigator of the Gestapo, but he did all he could to wriggle out 
of these questions. At last, in reply to the question put to him by 
the President of the Tribunal: “We must assume that the Germans 
trusted you, since they promoted you so rapidly, is that not so ?” — 
Tishchenko answered : “Yes, they trusted me.” 

The accused pleaded guilty to the charge of treason to his country, 
of having voluntarily deserted to the enemy, of having entered the 
service of the German Police, and later of the Gestapo, of having 
participated in the work of tracking down Soviet citizens, and of 
having assaulted, tortured and exterminated them wholesale. 

This concluded the proceedings of the session of 14th July. 

Morning Session, 15th July 

At the morning session of 15th July, the examination of the 
accused was continued. In the course of the proceedings the fiendish 
crimes committed by the German fascist invaders and their accom- 
plices — the wholesale extermination of Soviet citizens, the torture, 
rapine and plunder which these Hitlerites perpetrated in the area of 
the city of Krasnodar and of the Krasnodar Territory — were fully 
brought to light. 

Of the eleven accused, ten had served [in the so-called Sonder- 

B 



18 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



kommando SS- 10-tf, the punitive unit of the Gestapo. All had 
voluntarily joined this body and had zealously fulfilled all their 
infamous duties, doing their utmost to win the approval of their 
German masters. The Germans had recruited for the Sonder- 
kommando , as well as for their Police Force, criminal elements, 
embezzlers and thieves, who had been sentenced by Soviet courts 
and had served various terms of imprisonment (such as Rechkalov, 
Kotomtsev and Tuchkov), and also former kulaks and other persons 
hostile to the Soviet regime. 

The morning session commenced with the continuation of the 
examination of Tishchenko. The latter supplemented the evidence 
he had given on the previous day with additional facts about the 
blood-curdling atrocities which the German invaders had committed 
against peaceful Soviet citizens. He quoted numerous cases of 
outrage perpetrated by Colonel Christmann, the Chief of the Gestapo, 
and by Rabbe, Salge, Sargo and other officers of the Gestapo against 
Soviet women ; he related how prisoners in the cellar of the Gestapo 
premises who were dying of thirst were given salt water to drink, 
how women were bundled into the “murder van” and their children 
flung in after them as if they were logs of wood. In one case which 
he had witnessed, a mother could no longer bear to see her child’s 
sufferings and rushed forward to help it, but was knocked down with 
the butt end of a rifle. The child, which was being forcibly dragged 
into the “murder van,” bit the hand of its tormentor, whereupon 
another German crushed its skull with the butt end of his rifle. 

The next to be examined was the accused Pushkarev. He too 
stated that he had voluntarily entered the service of the Gestapo and 
had been soon promoted to the post of Gruppenfuhrer (Platoon 
Commander). He, with other Gestapo officials, had visited the 
stanitsas (Cossack villages). 

The State Prosecutor requested Pushkarev to describe these 
journeys in greater detail. The accused stated the following: 

“We were provided with false papers and sent to the stanitsas 
ostensibly as Soviet prisoners of war who had been released from 
camp. We were instructed to track down Soviet citizens who had 
been publicly active, and also those who sympathized with the guerrillas. 
During one journey we visited Anapa where I witnessed the shooting 
by the Germans of twenty peaceful inhabitants. These people were 
stripped naked, pushed into a pit which had been dug for them, and 
then shot point-blank with automatic rifles.” 

The State Prosecutor then requested the defendant to relate what 
he knew about the atrocities perpetrated by the Gestapo. Pushkarev 
quoted a number of cases, each more frightful than the other. 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



19 



“One day,” he said, “a family of three was brought to the Gestapo : 
the husband, a sick man, his wife, and a ten-year-old child. The 
husband was so sick that he had to be carried; nevertheless he was 
stripped half-naked and flung into the cellar. It was a very cold 
day, the temperature being far below zero. All night the sentries 
standing over the cellar heard groans and cries for assistance. By 
the morning these cries subsided. The prisoner had been frozen to 
death.” 

In answer to a question Pushkarev stated that as Gruppenfuhrer 
he often acted as Chief of the Guard of the Gestapo. 

The State Prosecutor : “That is to say, you guarded the victims 
of the Gestapo ?” 

Pushkarev : “Yes, I saw people brought to the Gestapo premises, 
taken for interrogation and returning to the cells. Only rarely did 
they walk back to the cells after interrogation. In most cases they 
were carried or dragged back with their faces disfigured, their bodies 
covered with bruises and bleeding weals, and their limbs broken. 
The cruellest of the German officials was Colonel Christmann, the 
Chief of the Gestapo, but on the whole there was not much to choose 
between him and the other German officers.” 

From his further evidence it transpired that Gruppenfuhrer Push- 
karev was extremely “exacting” towards his subordinates. “This is 
not the Soviet regime. The Germans have trained us differently,” 
he said to one of his subordinates one day. Once, in December, a 
woman who had just been brought to the Gestapo tried to escape 
and would have succeeded, but Gruppenfuhrer Pushkarev, desiring to 
win the favour of the Germans, ordered the sentry to shoot. The 
latter hesitated, so Pushkarev snatched the rifle from his hand and 
shot the woman himself. 

Pushkarev fully corroborated the evidence of the other accused 
concerning the “murder vans.” His evidence on this point was 
particularly valuable because he had directly participated in loading 
prisoners into these frightful vehicles. In reply to questions put to 
him Pushkarev stated: 

“The loading was supervised by Christmann, Rabbe, Dr. Herz, 
and other German officers. First women were bundled into the 
vans, and then men. Once, when I was present, eleven children were 
flung into a van; of these a number were suckling babes. The air 
was rent with weeping and wailing. Whoever resisted was beaten 
until he or she was nearly dead and then simply flung into the van. 
The door was then closed and the engine started.” 

Pushkarev stated that he was the last of the members of the 
Sonderkommando to leave the premises of the Gestapo when the 



20 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Germans fled from Krasnodar on the advance of the Red Army. 
Here he was a participant in another fiendish crime which the German 
invaders committed. 

“Before the Germans left,” he said, “the cells were crammed with 
prisoners. I was on guard then and heard shots and shrieks in the 
cellar. A number of German officers emerged from the cellar and 
soon after huge flames burst from the windows. I realized that these 
officers had set fire to the building with these prisoners locked in. 
The shrieks became louder and rose to a pitch of frenzy, but gradually 
they subsided.” 

The State Prosecutor : “Why were you acting as sentry on that 
occasion ? Was it to prevent the unfortunate victims from escaping ?” 

Pushkarev : “Yes, when the people had been burnt to death the 
guard was removed.” 

In the course of his evidence Pushkarev revealed the vile tricks 
the German invaders resorted to. Thus, they tried to palm off the 
people whom the Gestapo had brutally killed as “victims of the Soviet 
regime.” One day, according to Pushkarev, the Germans circulated 
a rumour to the effect that a contingent of Soviet prisoners of war 
would pass through the town and that the people would be permitted 
to give them food. When the people assembled in the street through 
which the prisoners were expected to pass, a train of motor trucks 
carrying German wounded appeared and German cinema operators 
photographed the scene. The purpose of this, as Pushkarev said in 
his evidence, was to produce a film showing how the inhabitants of 
Krasnodar had come out to welcome the German wounded soldiers. 

In concluding his evidence Pushkarev stated that one day Winz, 
one of the German detectives of the Gestapo, while under the influence 
of drink, had confided to him that a secret order had been received 
from Colonel General Ruoff, the Commander of the German 17th 
Army, to the effect that, when retreating from Krasnodar, the Germans 
were not to leave a stone standing in the city, that everything was to 
be put to the flames, and that as many Soviet citizens as possible were 
to be slaughtered and the rest carried away with the retreating German 
forces. 

The successful offensive of the Red Army, however, prevented the 
Hitlerites from carrying out their fiendish designs to the full. 

The next to be examined was the accused Rechkalov. He admitted 
that he had been an embezzler and thief and had served two sentences 
of imprisonment passed upon him by Soviet courts, and that he had 
voluntarily joined the Gestapo. 

The State Prosecutor : “Why did .you do that ?” 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



21 



Rechkalov : “I wanted a job with as little work and as much pay 
as possible.” 

Like the other defendants, Rechkalov admitted that he had taken 
part in rounding up Soviet citizens, had stood guard over Soviet 
prisoners and had zealously carried out all the orders of his German 
masters. One day he formed part of the convoy which escorted a 
“murder van” to an anti-tank trench. Concerning this incident he 
stated the following : 

“While the people were being loaded into the van they strenuously 
resisted. One woman shouted : ‘What are you doing ? Why, I have 
not been interrogated once!’ When all the people had been loaded 
into the van and the van had started off it was followed by twelve 
mounted men from the Sonderkommando, including myself. The 
van stopped at the anti-tank trench and we began to unload. All the 
people were dead. From the appearance of the bodies it was evident 
that they had undergone frightful suffering. One woman clasped a 
tuft of hair which she had tom from her head. Among the bodies 
I saw several children.” 

The accused Misan was then examined. In answer to the 
questions put to him by the President and the State Prosecutor he, 
mumbling rapidly, related how he had taken part in loading prisoners, 
including women and children, in the “murder van.” In particular, 
he related that he had voluntarily offered to shoot Constable Gubsky, 
whom the Germans had suspected of being secretly in sympathy with 
the Soviet regime, and that, after performing this executioner’s job, 
he had won the confidence of the officers of the Gestapo. 

In reply to further questions Misan tried to wriggle and deny his 
guilt, but Paramonov and Naptsok, Rechkalov and other accused, 
on being interrogated, exposed him as an agent of the Gestapo, a 
provocateur and a spy. 

Evidence was then given by Kotomtsev. He admitted that he had 
served in the Red Army but had voluntarily deserted to the enemy 
and had accepted service in the German Police Force and later in the 
Gestapo. He also admitted .that he had taken part in three punitive 
expeditions against Soviet citizens. 

“One of these punitive expeditions,” he stated in the course of 
his evidence, “was commanded by Colonel Christmann, the Chief of 
the Gestapo, himself. During that expedition a girl, whose identity 
was not ascertained, was hanged on suspicion of being in communica- 
tion with the guerrillas. But that was not enough. All the inhabitants 
of this village were driven from their homes.” 

“How did the German Command reward you for this ?” inquired 
the State Prosecutor. 



22 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



At first Kotomtsev pretended that he did not understand the 
question, but finally he admitted that he was officially thanked by 
the Chief of the Gestapo. 

The State Prosecutor : “What for ? For faithfully serving the 
German invaders ? For helping them to exterminate Soviet people ?” 

“Yes,” answered Kotomtsev, thus himself summing up his criminal 
and treasonable activities. 

The accused Naptsok was then summoned to give evidence. The 
President asked him : 

“Were you aware that the Sonderkommando was a punitive 
body of the Gestapo and that its main function was to exterminate 
Soviet citizens ?” 

“Yes,” answered the accused. 

The President : “Consequently, you deliberately betrayed your 
country and deserted to the worst enemy of your people ?” 

Naptsok (after a brief pause) : “Yes, deliberately.” 

The last to be examined at the morning session was the defendant 
Tuchkov , who fully admitted that on entering the service of the 
Gestapo he did his utmost to win the favour of the German officers 
and that he had taken an active part in all the terroristic and pro- 
vocational activities of the Gestapo in the area of the city of Krasnodar 
and the Krasnodar Territory. 

Afternoon Session, 15th July 

During the afternoon session the accused Kladov , Paramonov , 
Pavlov and Lastovina were examined. Their evidence supplemented 
the picture described by the previous accused. In particular, they 
corroborated all that had been said about the “murder vans” which 
the German fiends had invented for exterminating Soviet people. 
It transpired from their evidence that at first the “murder vans” made 
their appearance on definite days in the week. Later on, however, 
when the Red Army had passed to the offensive and the German 
invaders realized that they would soon be compelled to flee from 
Krasnodar, they began to exterminate Soviet people with feverish 
haste, and the “murder vans” were worked to the utmost capacity, 
making several journeys a day. In all, according to as yet incomplete 
figures, they put to death in this way as many as 7,000 people, including 
hundreds of children. 

All the accused pleaded guilty to the charges of having actively 
assisted the German invaders in their acts of rapine and murder 
against the inhabitants of Krasnodar and the Krasnodar Territory. 
All of them admitted that they had voluntarily taken service in the 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



23 



Gestapo, had carried out all the fiendish orders of the German officers, 
and had directly participated in the wholesale extermination of Soviet 
citizens. 

The accused Lastovina, who had been employed as a male nurse 
at the Berezansk Medical Colony where there were hundreds of 
patients, stated in his evidence that after the Germans had brutally 
put to death the majority of the patients in their “murder vans” they 
rounded up the rest and carted them to an anti-tank trench in motor 
trucks. He, Lastovina, was ordered to escort the trucks containing 
these doomed people, and he gladly consented. 

“When the patients were being loaded on the trucks,” he con- 
tinued, “they struggled and begged to be spared, but the Germans 
bundled them in. One woman patient named Marusya struggled 
more than the rest, and as she was overpowered she shouted: ‘Our 
men will avenge all this!’ — whereupon a German officer cracked her 
skull and flung her into the truck. All the patients were taken to 
an anti-tank trench five kilometres away and there they were pulled 
out of the truck in batches of five. I undressed them and, after they 
were shot, threw their bodies into the trench.” 

After a brief adjournment the court proceeded to examine the 
witnesses. In their evidence the witnesses drew a frightful picture 
of the orgy of terrorism indulged in by the Hitlerites and of the 
incredible outrages and tortures to which they subjected the inhabitants 
of the towns and villages they had occupied. The first to be examined 
was the witness Klimova , who related what she had herself seen and 
experienced when she was arrested and thrown into the cellar of the 
Gestapo. 

“lie women in my cell,” she stated, “were unrecognizable when 
they returned from interrogation. I vividly remember the story told 
by a girl who came back to the cell after interrogation. The German 
officers had ordered her to be stripped and tied naked to a table. 
They then started a gramophone and while the music was playing 
they beat the girl almost to death. Then they began to interrogate 
her, but she refused to confess anything and so they started the 
gramophone again and beat her until the record was played out. 
This went on for two hours.” 

The public in the hall listened with bated breath to the evidence 
of the witness Golovaty , who said : 

“My son, a member of the Young Communist League, 17 years 
of age, was arrested and taken to the Gestapo. From that moment 
I did not see him alive again. I saw him only after the Germans had 
been driven from Krasnodar, but he was dead. I found his body 
frightfully mutilated in an anti-tank trench, Around him there were 



24 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



many other bodies, including those of women and little children. 
The bodies had been thrown into the trench in rows, one on top of 
the other. I was accompanied by another workman from our factory 
and he discovered the frightfully mutilated bodies of his wife and 
little child.” 

The witness identified the accused in the prisoners’ dock and 
denounced them as vile traitors to their country and active accomplices 
of the Hitlerites in all the foul crimes and outrages they had committed 
against Soviet citizens. 

Morning Session, 16th July 

At the morning session on 16th July, the examination of witnesses 
was continued. The Military Tribunal heard the evidence of 22 wit- 
nesses who had either themselves been in the clutches of the Gestapo, 
had lost relatives and friends, or had witnessed the frightful crimes 
committed by the fascist invaders. 

The proceedings were opened by the examination of the witness 
Kolomyitsev, who stated : 

‘‘In the beginning of February my wife was arrested and I did not 
see her again until 28th February — she was dead, and lying in an 
anti-tank trench. Her face was marked with livid vertical streaks.” 

The State Prosecutor : “Were there many other bodies in the 
trench ?” 

Kolomyitsev : “Thousands! What was very noticeable was the 
number of little children, many of them tiny infants, also women and 
aged men. Many of the bodies bore obvious traces of ferocious 
beating and torture. The majority bore no signs of injury from 
firearms; it was evident that they had been asphyxiated by some 
poisonous substance.” 

The State Prosecutor : “What had you known about the German 
atrocities previous to that ?” 

Kolomyitsev : “The Germans began to exterminate Soviet citizens 
on the very first day they occupied the city, but at the end of January 
this assumed a wholesale character. Gallows were erected all over 
the town ; people were also hanged on telegraph poles. I remember 
the body of one man hanging for several days. To his chest was 
attached a tablet bearing the inscription: ‘He stole firewood from 
Germany.’ He was hanged for taking a few twigs from the cemetery.” 

The next to be examined was the witness Petrenko, who stated : 

“Shortly after the Germans arrived in Krasnodar I was summoned 
to the Gestapo premises and there called upon to divulge the where- 
abouts of Soviet citizens who, to my knowledge, had been active in 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



25 



public life. I had no desire to be a traitor, and so I secretly left the 
town to hide in a stanitsa. My wife and two children did not manage 
to get away, and in revenge for my escape the Gestapo arrested them.” 
The State Prosecutor : “How old were the children ?” 

Petrenko : “The boy was seven years old and the girl three.” 

The State Prosecutor : “Please continue.” 

Petrenko : “After Krasnodar was liberated from the German 
.invaders I returned and began searching for my wife and children. 
Wherever I went, in all the cellars of the Gestapo, I found bodies of 
people whom the Hitlerites had burnt to death. At last I went to 
the anti-tank trench. There I found dead bodies in countless numbers. 
Among them I found my wife and daughter. Both were stripped 
naked. I found my son in the same trench two weeks later. As we 
learned afterwards, they had all been asphyxiated in a ‘murder van’. ” 
The State Prosecutor : “What did you see in the cellars of the 
Gestapo when you were searching for the bodies of your wife and 
children ?” 

Petrenko : “I saw the bodies of people who had been burnt to 
death. By their pose one could see that they had suffered frightful 
agony before they died, and had made desperate efforts to get out of 
the cellar.” 

Petrenko was followed in the witness stand by Agrippina Antonovna 
Korolchuk , an old lady who lived near the anti-tank trench into which 
the Germans had flung their victims. In her evidence this witness 
stated : 

“Large covered motor vans passed our house on their way to the 
trench every day. They were usually escorted by mounted men 
carrying spades. One day a van got stuck in the mud and, try as they 
would, the Germans could not drag it out. They drove us all into 
the house so that we should not see what was going on, but I peeped 
through the window and saw a cart ride up to the van and into this 
cart the Germans began to unload dead bodies from the van. They 
would fill the cart with as many bodies as it would hold, take it off 
to the trench, unload, and come back for more. This they did six 
or seven times, until all the bodies had been carted to the trench.” 

The wholesale slaughter of peaceful Soviet citizens by the German 
invaders was corroborated by the witness Talashchenko, who also 
lived near the anti-tank trench. In her evidence she stated : 

“Among those whom the Germans brought here to be shot every 
day were many women and children. I can still hear their heart- 
rending shrieks: ‘My God, how many of us innocents are here!’ 
The ‘murder van’ also came to the anti-tank trench every day. It 
was backed right up to the edge of the parapet, the doors were opened 



26 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



and the bodies flung out as if they were logs of wood. The Germans 
threw a few shovelfuls of earth over the bodies and rode away.” 

The next witness was Father Ilyashev, the aged priest of St. George’s 
Church, who, in his evidence, told of numerous Russian families whom 
the Germans had robbed of their bread-winners, of mothers who had 
been tortured to death, and of sons and daughters who had been killed. 

“The very next day after the Germans fled from Krasnodar,” 
he said, “I was invited to visit a family which had suffered a great 
bereavement. They had just brought home the body of their only 
son whom the fascist butchers had killed. The day after that I visited 
the family of my friend Lugansky, a photographer. I had seen him 
quite shortly before that, and now I was invited to perform the last 
rites over him. ‘Did the Germans kill him ?’ I asked. ‘Yes, Father, 
the Germans, may they be cursed!’ — was the answer. I could not 
read the prayers, for tears streamed from my eyes and I thought of 
the innumerable Russian people who, for no reason at all, had been 
put to death on their own native soil by those German monsters. 
My neighbour, Raissa Ivanovna, also died at their accursed hands. I 
knew her family very well indeed, a friendly, industrious Russian 
family. The Germans asphyxiated Raissa Ivanovna with some 
poisonous substance; her body bore no sign of wounds; only her 
face was lined with livid streaks.” 

Continuing, Father Ilyashev said : 

“Many of my parishioners told me that on the day before they 
left, the Germans put on Red Army uniforms and went from house to 
house saying : ‘What are you waiting for, citizens ? The Red Army 
is here already. Go and help it.’ Credulous people believed them 
and ran out into the streets, some of them taking hidden arms with 
them. But the German provocateurs pounced upon them and killed 
them out of hand. 

“All that the Germans have done here — their wholesale repressions, 
round-ups, and extermination of thousands of innocent people— 
utterly convinced me of what the Germans are. I testify here, before 
the entire Russian nation, before the whole world, that they are savage 
beasts, and I cannot find the words with which to express our hatred 
and curses for these fiends!” 

The witness Skrynnikova, in her evidence, corroborated the story 
about the vile trick the Germans played on the inhabitants of Krasnodar 
by circulating the rumour about Red Army prisoners passing through 
the town. She said : 

“One day the Germans announced that on such and such a date 
a contingent of Red Army prisoners would pass by the Cathedral, 
and that whoever desired to give them food would be permitted 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



27 



to do so. Thousands of people gathered. But instead of Red Army- 
men we found motor trucks with German wounded. German photo- 
graphers climbed on the balconies of the houses near by, and on tele- 
graph poles, and photographed the scene in order to make pictures 
to illustrate how the people of Krasnodar welcomed the German 
army. After the motor trucks had passed the Germans began to 
disperse the crowd, prodding them with their rifles.” 

A deep impression on the court was made by the evidence of the 
witness Kozelsky , a physician at the Krasnodar Municipal Hospital. 
He stated : 

“A few days after the Germans occupied the town, the alleged 
surgeon, but actually the butcher of the Gestapo, Herz, came to our 
hospital and inquired how many patients were there, and who they 
were. Several days later he came again, accompanied by a group of 
German officers. On 22nd August, the corridors of the hospital 
again echoed with the tramp of these German jack-boots. On Herz’s 
orders all the doctors of the hospital were assembled in the head doctor’s 
office and there Herz unhitched his revolver from his belt, laid it on 
the desk, and in broken Russian asked: ‘Communists, Young Com- 
munist Leaguers, Jews, any such here ?’ He was informed that none 
of the doctors were either Communists or Jews. He then went on 
to say: ‘I am a German officer. I have received orders to remove 
all the patients from here. The German Command has ordered 
that there must be no sick persons in war time. They must be exter- 
minated. How they are to be exterminated is no business of yours.’ 
“Deathly silence reigned in the office. Everybody’s face was as 
pallid as chalk. Somebody asked : ‘What about the convalescents ? 
They are almost well.’ ‘I shall tell you what to do with them,’ answered 
Herz roughly, ‘but now I must proceed to business.’ 

“I went into the courtyard,” continued the witness, “and there I 
found that while Herz had been speaking to us the loading of the 
‘murder vans’ had already started. At first the patients did not realize 
what was happening ; they were told that they were being transferred 
to another hospital. But later they guessed. The shrieks and groans 
that then went up were truly heartrending. When the ‘murder van’ 
was packed to its fullest capacity it went off and returned for another 
load. In the course of several journeys the Germans murdered over 
300 patients. I must add that, after killing all the patients, the Germans 
left a small ward with about twenty beds for new patients. But this 
turned out to be a trap in which to entice fresh victims for the slaughter. 
The ‘murder van’ came again once or twice to take away the unfor- 
tunate victims who had fallen into this trap. Afterwards we learned 
that the same thing had happened at the Children’s Hospital at Tretya 



28 



THE PEOPLE S VERDICT 



Rechka Kochety. People who witnessed the scene there informed me 
that when the children had been loaded and the van had moved off, 
piercing shrieks and the wailing of children were heard from the 
interior of the van. Members of the hospital staff afterwards identified 
their little patients who had been brutally murdered by the German 
fiends. When one pit was opened, forty-two bodies of children were 
found wearing underclothing with the hospital’s stamp.” 

All these facts were corroborated by the witness Anokhina , who 
added that the patients who were unable to walk were carried out 
by the Germans on stretchers and flung into the van. 

The tragic scenes that occurred at the Berezansk Medical Colony 
were described by the witness Mokhno. She stated the following : 
“One day a German officer came to the colony and roughly ordered 
us to assemble all the patients in the courtyard. Some of the patients 
resisted and they had their arms twisted behind their backs. They 
were beaten and pushed into the van by main force. I heard a German 
soldier say to somebody, laughingly: ‘Russian patients kaput with 
gas!’ ” 

This witness gave details of another vile trick the Germans per- 
petrated on the inhabitants of Krasnodar. She said : 

“One day the rumour was spread that tripe would be on sale in 
the New Market. A large crowd gathered in the market, for since 
the Germans had been bossing the town everybody was starving. The 
crowd stood and waited. Suddenly a motor truck drove up and from 
it the Germans dragged a man wearing a sailor’s uniform. They 
put a noose round his neck and made preparations to hang him. The 
women were petrified with horror. Many of them began to weep. 
The sailor shouted: ‘Don’t weep! Our men will be here soon and 
will avenge all this!’ ” 

The next witness to be examined was Kotov, whom the Germans 
had seized and bundled into the “murder van,” but who had saved 
himself by his coolness and resourcefulness. In his evidence he stated : 
“On 22nd August, I went to the Third Municipal Hospital, where 
I had been a patient, to obtain a certificate. When I arrived in the 
courtyard the first thing I noticed was a large van with a dark grey 
body. Before I had managed to take a couple of steps a German 
officer seized me by the collar of my coat and pushed me into the van. 
The van was packed with people, some of them quite naked, others 
only in their underclothing. The door was slammed to and the van 
moved off. Several minutes later I felt bad and began to lose con- 
sciousness. At one time I had taken a course of anti-gas bombing 
drill and I soon realized what was happening — we were being poisoned 
with some kind of gas. I tore off my shirt, moistened it with my urine 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



29 



and pressed it to my nose and mouth. I began to breathe more easily, 
but I lost consciousness all the same. When I came to I found myself 
in a pit among scores of dead bodies. I managed to climb out of the 
pit somehow and crept home with great difficulty.” 

A frightful picture of the extermination of children by the German 
invaders was drawn by the witness Inozemtseva , a member of the 
staff of the Children’s Hospital. In her evidence she stated : 

“On 13th September a group of German officers arrived at the 
Children’s Hospital. Among them were Erich Meier and Jakob 
Eicks. They stayed at the hospital several days, roaming about the 
wards, watching the children and the medical staff. Going on duty 
on 23rd September, I saw a large dark grey vehicle in the courtyard, 
which looked something like a furniture van. A tall German roughly 
asked me how many people lived in the neighbourhood of the hospital 
and what nationality they were. This German proved to be Doctor 
Herz, one of the most brutal of the Gestapo butchers. He had arrived 
with a number of other Germans who, on his orders, began to put the 
children into the van. We were not allowed to dress the children, 
although we were fold that they were being taken to Stavropol — and 
that meant a long journey. The children were dressed only in singlets 
and shorts. When all the children had been loaded in the van the 
butchers slammed the door and the van moved off, followed by a motor 
car in which there were several German officers. Twenty or twenty- 
five minutes later they returned and began drinking. ... I shall 
never forget those little children — some of them were only a year old. 
They cried and shrieked, instinctively feeling that something terrible 
was going to happen to them. Volodya Zuzuyev, one of our little 
boy patients, cried out : ‘Good-bye Comrade Stalin, good-bye nursies. 
I -am never coming back any more!’ I shall never forget that frightful 
day as long as I live.” 

Inozemtseva’s evidence was fully corroborated by the witness 
Popovich, who stated that the Germans put to death in their diabolical 
“murder van” no less than forty-two child patients at the Tretya 
Rechka Kochety Children’s Hospital. 

The witness Ivko, who lives on the outskirts of Krasnodar, stated 
in her evidence that she had been an involuntary witness of what had 
taken place after the “murder van” had left the gates of the Children’s 
Hospital. She said : 

“One day some Germans came to our district and compelled the 
inhabitants to go out and to dig a large pit, which, they said, was to 
serve as a position for an anti-aircraft gun. We were afraid to disobey 
and so we went out and dug the pit. Several days later a large grey 
motor van stopped outside our co-operative store. A German 



30 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



jumped down from the driver’s cabin and ran towards the collective 
farm office. I walked up to the machine and heard what I thought 
were stifled groans. I listened again ; they were indeed groans coming 
from inside the van. I heard footsteps and quickly skipped away from 
the van. I saw the German coming out of the office and heard him 
swearing terribly at our book-keeper, saying: ‘You — so and so — 
Russian swine, get me a spade, I don’t care where you get it from!’ 
When they got him a spade he drove the van straight to the pit which 
we had dug several days previously. About fifteen minutes later a 
motor car, with German officers in it, arrived at the pit. 

“We then got an inkling of what was going to happen and we began 
to cry. We were sure that these scoundrels had come here to kill 
guerrillas, or Jews. Soon, a little girl came running towards us, her 
face distorted with horror. It appeared that she had been at the pit 
raking the fresh earth with which it had been filled and had discovered 
a child’s dark-blue singlet. Later we learned that here the Germans 
had buried the child patients from the Tretya Rechka Kochety 
Children’s Hospital, whom they had killed with gas in their ‘murder 
van’.” 

Evidence was then given by the witness Rozhkova , who stated : 

“On the night before the Germans fled from Krasnodar a stranger 
came to our house, or rather crawled into our house. It turned out 
that he was a Red Armyman who had been taken prisoner by the 
Germans. He was an Uzbek. He told us that he had escaped from 
the cellar of the Gestapo premises after the Germans had set fire 
to the building. We gave him something to drink and put him to 
bed, but all our efforts were in vain. Soon after he died.” 

The State Prosecutor : Describe his appearance. 

Rozhkova : He was covered with wounds and burns. His jaw 
was knocked to one side. 

The State Prosecutor : Did he manage to tell you anything ? 
Rozhkova : The only thing he managed to tell us was that there 
had been forty men in his cell, but he was the only one to get away. 
All the rest were burnt to death.” 

The last to be examined was the witness Gazhik, who lived in the 
house next to the premises of the Gestapo. She stated : 

“When I swept the pavement outside my house I kept my eyes open 
to see what was going on in that place. I often heard women’s shrieks 
and children crying. The sounds came from the cellar of the Gestapo. 
Often the prisoners would beg in a feeble voice : ‘Give us at least a 
sip of water.’ Sometimes, when the sentry was not looking, I managed 
to push a cupful of water or a crust of bread through the grating and 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



31 



then I would hear excited children’s voices saying: ‘Don’t drink it 
all; leave me a little drop!’ 

“Through the fence I saw them loading people in the ‘murder van.’ 
With my own ears I heard a five-year-old girl, not understanding what 
was going on, shout to her mother who was being dragged into the 
van: ‘Mummy, I want to ride with you!’ A German officer took a 
small tube from his pocket, squeezed it and smeared the little girl’s 
lips with some stuff. The little girl seemed to have been stunned. The 
German picked her up and threw her into the van. The mother rushed 
at the brute and scratched and bit his face. Other Germans rushed 
at her, twisted her arms behind her back and bundled her into the van. 

“Before leaving Krasnodar, the Germans set fire to the houses. 
With our own eyes we saw them set fire to the State Bank, the tobacco 
warehouse, and other buildings. After the explosion in the premises 
of the Gestapo, I went into the cellar. The first thing I saw was a 
dead body with the arms cut off. All around were lying charred 
bodies and numerous petrol tins twisted by the flames. There were 
so many dead bodies there that I could not count them. There were 
dead bodies not only in the cellar. In the spring we were given a 
vegetable plot near the premises where the Sonderkommando — 
those fellows over there [pointing to the. prisoners in the dock] — had 
their living quarters. When we began digging the plot we found 
several bodies of Soviet people who had been tortured to death.” 

The court then adjourned. 



Afternoon Session, 16th July 

$ 

The afternoon session was devoted to hearing the evidence of the 
Committee of Experts consisting of V. I. Prozorovsky, Chief Medico- 
Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat for Public Health of the 
U.S.S.R., and Director of the State Medical Jurisprudence Research 
Institute; V. M. Smolyaninov, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the 
People’s Commissariat for Public Health of the R.S.F.S.R., and 
Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow Medical 
Institute ; Dr. P. S. Semenovsky, Consulting Physician of the Moscow 
City Court Medical Experts’ Department, and Court Chemist S. M. 
Sokolov. 

The Committee’s report was read by Dr. V. I. Prozorovsky, who 
stated that the exhumation and examination of the bodies of the victims 
of the German fascist invaders had established the following : 

“The corpses were lying in the pits in such a way as to form a 
jumbled tangle of human bodies. Some of the bodies lay in a hori- 



32 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



zontal position with their arms and legs stretched out, some face 
upwards and some face downwards. Some of the bodies were lying 
in a half-bent position ; others were in a sitting position and some even 
in an upright position. The arms, legs and heads of the bodies were 
so interlaced that in attempting to raise individual bodies from the 
pit, several were pulled out together. This proves that the bodies 
were not properly buried, but thrown into the pit haphazard, and just 
covered with earth. 

“As a rule the bodies — of men, women and children (including 
infants at the breast) were bereft of clothing and footwear. In those 
cases where bodies were clothed, the clothing — underwear or top cloth- 
ing — was mere rags. In some of the pits bodies were found with 
wooden crutches near them, and household utensils (such as market 
baskets, bottles, and so forth). 

“From 1st March to 26th June, 1943, the Committee exhumed and 
examined in all 623 bodies. 

“The medical, chemical and spectroscopic investigations established 
beyond doubt that in 523 cases the cause of death was poisoning by 
carbon monoxide; in 100 cases, death was due to wounds inflicted in 
the head and chest by firearms.” 

At the request of the State Prosecutor the court appended to the 
documents in the case the affidavit of the Krasnodar City Extra- 
ordinary State Commission for investigating atrocities committed by 
the German fascist invaders and their accomplices. 

The President declared the court investigation at an end and invited 
Justiciary Major General L. /. Yachenin to deliver the speech for the 
prosecution. 

Speech for the Prosecution 

The State Prosecutor said : 

“It is with feelings of profound grief for the innocent blood shed 
by thousands of martyred Soviet people, with feelings of unquenchable 
hatred of the German invaders for their brutalities and violence, and 
the sorrow and suffering they have caused our people, that I commence 
my speech for the prosecution. 

“Comrades judges, during the few days that this trial has proceeded 
we have followed the tracks of a wild beast. Before us yawned the 
dark depths of anti-tank trenches which the German fascist fiends 
converted into gigantic graves for over seven thousand peaceful Soviet 
citizens, women, children and the aged. The groans and death rattle 
of our brothers, sisters and children who were tortured, asphyxiated, 
or shot still ring in our ears. 




Dead bodies of Soviet citizens shot by the Germans 




Dr. P. S. Semenovsky, a member of the Committee of Experts, 
examining the body of a child which had been brutally 
murdered by the German fascist invaders. 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



33 



“For six months these swarms of brown locusts devoured and 
devastated the bounteous Krasnodar Territory. Reeling back under 
the blows of our Red Army, they left a trail of blood and tears, heaps 
of corpses, fire, and an abyss of hopeless misery. 

“The Krasnodar Territory does not stand alone in this respect. 
Wherever the foot of the fascist beast has trod the gloom of night 
prevails. Life has died out. Hundreds and thousands of innocent 
people have been thrown into yawning graves. 

“Such is the nature of fascism; such is its savage programme in 
action. 

“Hitler, that vile chief of the fascist gangsters, boasted of these 
bloodthirsty plans with diabolic candour even before the war; and 
it is by his direct orders that his henchmen kill, strangle, rob and hang. 

“For years Hitler and his clique imbued the German people with 
the ethics of the jungle and eradicated from their hearts and minds 
every trace of conscience and honour. 

“Characterizing the Hitlerites in the speech he delivered on 
6th November, 1941, Comrade Stalin quoted the following passages 
from statements made by Hitler and Goring : ‘Kill everyone who is 
opposed to us.’ ‘Kill, kill! It is not you that will be held responsible, 
but I! Therefore, kill!’ This is what Goring said. And Hitler said : 
‘I emancipate man from the humiliating chimera which is called 
conscience. Conscience, like education, mutilates man. My advan- 
tage is that I am not deterred by any considerations theoretical or 
moral.’ 

“This war will end with our victory; the buildings wrecked in 
Krasnodar and other cities will be restored. Our gardens and orchards 
will flourish again, and will ring again with the laughter of our children. 
The wounds which the fascist hordes have inflicted on our land will 
heal. But the memory of the dark pits and anti-tank trenches in which 
they buried thousands of their human victims, of the charred walls 
of the Gestapo premises in the cellar of which three hundred Soviet 
patriots met their death in flames, and of those thousands who were 
asphyxiated, shot, tortured, and outraged will for ever haunt us like 
a frightful shadow and call for implacable vengeance and retribution. 

“The enemy is still trampling upon our soil ; he is still perpetrating 
his deeds of violence against our Soviet people in the occupied regions. 
At this very moment, while I am speaking, somewhere in the districts 
occupied by these German fascist barbarians the engines of ‘murder 
vans’ are droning as they convey new victims to the graves which have 
been dug for them. 

“The entire responsibility for the atrocities and crimes committed 
during the German occupation of the city of Krasnodar and the 



c 



34 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Krasnodar Territory, responsibility for the torture and outrage, for 
the wholesale shooting, burning and fiendish extermination with poison 
gases, for the burning and hanging of innocent Soviet people — the 
aged, women and children — rests upon the chiefs of the predatory 
fascist government of Germany and on the German High Command. 

“Responsibility for these frightful crimes rests upon Colonel 
General Ruoff, Commander of the German 17th Army. Full respons- 
ibility for them rests upon the Butcher of Krasnodar, Colonel Chris t- 
mann, Chief of the Gestapo, and upon his henchmen, the officers of 
the Gestapo, Captain Rabbe , Salge , Paschert , Sargo, Winz , Hahn , 
Munster, Erich Meier , the so-called surgeon Herz, and members of 
the staff of the Gestapo, Jakob Eicks and ScherterlanP 

Proceeding to deal with the circumstances of the case, the State 
Prosecutor emphasized the vile and treasonable activities of The 
traitors Tishchenko , Rechkalov , Naptsok, Miscui and the other 
defendants in this case. He reminded the court of the frightful details 
it had heard of the torture and wholesale slaughter of innocent people 
practised by the Gestapo in Krasnodar, in which the traitors, now in 
the prisoners’ dock, had taken an active part. He dealt particularly 
with the exceptionally brutal torture inflicted upon his victims by 
Colonel Christmann, the Chief of the Gestapo. Everybody in the Gestapo 
knew that if a prisoner was taken to be interrogated by the chief, he 
or she would not come back alive. 

The State Prosecutor also pointed to the fact that the Gestapo in 
Krasnodar, and the so-called Sonderkommando , made regular 
visits to the stanitsas and farms in the Krasnodar Territory for the 
purpose of exterminating Soviet citizens. These punitive expeditions 
cost our Russian people a great deal of blood. Sixteen Soviet patriots 
hanged in the stanitsa of Krimskaya ; an innocent girl hanged at the 
Kurundupe Farm, wholesale assault, arrest and shooting in the 
district of Temny Gastagai, wholesale robbery of the population — 
these are only a few of the milestones on the road of blood traversed 
by the Gestapo in the Krasnodar Territory. In these punitive expedi- 
tions the defendants Pushkarev, Rechkalov , Kotomtsev, Naptsok and 
Pavlov had taken an active part. 

The State Prosecutor reminded the court of the details it had heard 
of the torture and outrage to which the Gestapo had subjected its 
victims even before the doors of the “murder van” were openedfor them. 
Fresh captives poured into the cellars of the Gestapo in an endless 
stream. Here languished people of 70, young girls, and little children 
captured together with their mothers. The fiends of the Gestapo 
massacred the Soviet population wholesale with savage ferocity and 
typical German thoroughness. These wild beasts who claim to be 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



35 



the bearers of technical progress invented special machines — the 
“murder vans” — for the purpose of putting people to death wholesale. 
They invented a conveyor system of death. According to incomplete 
figures based on the evidence of witnesses, no less than 6,930 people 
were hauled out of the cellars of the Gestapo and put to death in the 
“murder vans.” 

The State Prosecutor then dealt with the extermination of Soviet 
people from the hospitals and medical institutions in the Krasnodar 
Territory, which the fascist fiends had converted into man-traps. 
He recounted the circumstances of the slaughter in “murder vans” 
of over 300 patients from the Krasnodar Municipal Hospital, 320 
patients from the Berezansk Medical Colony — and of another 17 
from this colony who were killed subsequently — and of the 60 con- 
valescents who were taken to an anti-tank trench and there shot by 
the German fascist butchers. 

He then proceeded to deal with the massacre of the forty-two sick 
children lying at the Krasnodar Children’s Hospital in Tretya Rechka 
Kochety Farm. 

“Here, being restored to fife and health and surrounded by the 
care and solicitude of the Soviet authorities were forty-two sick 
children,” he said. “But the ‘murder van’ found its way even here. 
On 21st September, the German officer Herz arrived. Several days 
previous to that Erich Meier and Jacob Eicks had taken up their 
quarters there. These Gestapo officers, with their own hands, loaded 
all the children into the ‘murder van’ and took them away from the 
hospital. A few days before that Meier and Eicks had compelled the 
people living in the neighbourhood to dig a pit, ostensibly for an anti- 
aircraft gun, and when these preparations were completed these baby- 
killers set to work to murder these children in cold blood! The 
loading of the children into the van was accompanied by tragic scenes. 
These half-naked children struggled, prayed for assistance and pro- 
tection ; their little hands clutched at the nurses and doctors. Some 
of them were unconscious with fright. 

“When the fascist fiends were driven out of Krasnodar Territory, 
representatives of the public dug up the places where these unfor- 
tunate children had been buried, and their gaze encountered a shapeless 
mass of little dead bodies mixed up with shorts and singlets bearing 
the stamp of the Children’s Hospital. Some of these articles of under- 
clothing have figured in the case as exhibits.” 

The State Prosecutor reminded the court that the Committee of 
Experts which had exhumed and examined 623 of the bodies found 
in these pits and anti-tank trenches in Krasnodar, in the Berezansk 
Colony, and near Tretya Rechka Kochety Farm, had established that 



36 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



in 523 cases death was due to poisoning by carbon monoxide, and in 
100 cases it was due to mortal wounds inflicted by firearms. 

The State Prosecutor then referred to the tricks the German fascist 
butchers had resorted to in order to discover Soviet citizens who had 
been active in public life and to put them to death. 

“They resorted to a trick of this kind just before they left Kras- 
nodar,” he said. “One of their rearguard units, consisting of men who 
spoke Russian, put on Red Army uniforms and went from house to 
house calling upon the young people to arm and go in pursuit of the 
retreating enemy. Some of the more credulous of the young Kras- 
nodar patriots allowed themselves to be deceived and paid for this 
with their lives. Cases of this kind could be quoted without end, but 
this would be superfluous as the brutal features of the bloodthirsty 
fascist monsters stand out clearly enough as it is. 

“The German barbarians marked the last days of their presence 
in Krasnodar by a crime of the most heinous kind. At dawn, on 
10th February, the sky was aglow with the flames of the burning 
premises of the Gestapo in which the Germans had placed numerous 
tins of petrol and incendiary bombs and deliberately set fire to them. 
While the building was burning a strong cordon of police kept guard 
to prevent the unfortunate prisoners in the basement from escaping. 
Over 300 perished in the flames. Only one Red Armyman, his body 
scorched and mutilated, managed to escape from this inferno, and 
before dying he told the witnesses Gazhik, Dubrova and Rozhkova 
about the last horrible moments suffered by the prisoners of the 
Krasnodar Gestapo. 

“A monstrous tidal wave of blood swept through the towns and 
villages of Krasnodar Territory, driving tens of thousands of human 
beings into their graves ; but it did not for a moment break the spirit 
of the Soviet people or shake their confidence in ultimate victory. 
When death was already leering in the face of the sailor of the Red 
Navy in the market place of Krasnodar, with the noose over his neck, 
he kicked aside the traitor standing near him and shouted to the weep- 
ing women : ‘Don’t weep. These butchers will answer for this with 
thousands of their lives. Our men will be here soon and avenge us!’ 
And at the Berezansk Medical Colony, Marusya, battered and bleeding, 
hurled in the face of her executioners as she was about to die : ‘Our 
men will come and avenge us!’ 

“The years will pass. In the finest square in regenerated Krasnodar 
a monument will rear its head in proud memory of that heroic sailor, 
and of all those nameless patriots who gave their lives for their Soviet 
Motherland and for their great people. 

“But now let us bow our heads before the ashes of our martyred 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



37 



brothers and mothers, children and sisters, and vow to exact implacable 
retribution for their sufferings, for their blood, for their terrible fate. 
“Let us vow to carry out Comrade Stalin’s behest : 

“ *. . . to liberate from the yoke of the German invaders the 
people of our villages and towns who were free and lived like 
human beings before the war, but are now oppressed and suffering 
from rapine, ruination and famine ... to liberate our women 
from the outrage and violence to which they are subjected by 
the German fascist monsters. . . .’ ‘To take ruthless vengeance 
on the German invaders for the blood and tears of our wives and 
children, our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters.’ 

“The ruthless vengeance which our teacher and leader calls for 
will come ; it will inevitably strike the fascist savages who devastated 
Krasnodar Territory, the murderers of thousands of its peaceful 
inhabitants. It will strike their vile accomplices who are now standing 
before the present Military Tribunal!” 

The State Prosecutor then proceeded to weigh the individual guilt 
of each of the defendants, and after analysing the evidence demanded 
that sentence of death be passed on Pushkarev, Miscrn, Naptsok , 
Kotomtsev , Kladov , Rechkalov , Tishchenko and Lastovina for com- 
mitting crimes covered by Arts. 58-1 a and 58-1 b of the Criminal 
Code of the R.S.F.S.R. 

As regards Paramonov , Tuchkov and Pavlov , the State Prosecutor 
waived the demand for capital punishment on the grounds that their 
crimes had been less heinous than those of the other defendants. 

In conclusion the State Prosecutor said : 

“To-day Soviet law will mete out justice to the traitors, fascist 
hirelings and boot-lickers now in the prisoners’ dock. To-morrow 
the court of history, the court of the freedom-loving nations of the 
world, will pronounce its inexorable verdict on the bloodthirsty rulers 
of Hitlerite Germany and all its associates, on the enemies of mankind 
who have plunged the world into the welter of the present war. Not 
one of them will escape stem retribution! Blood for blood, death for 
death!” 

Jfc 4c * >te ♦ 

On the conclusion of the speech for the prosecution, the President 
called upon the Advocate S. K. Kaznacheyev, whom the court had 
appointed to defend Tishchenko, Paramonov and Lastovina. 

“First of all,” said counsel in opening his speech, “I would like to 



38 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



express my regret that the chief organizers and inspirers of these 
fiendish crimes are not in the prisoners’ dock to-day. The principal 
defendants in this case are Hitler and his criminal gang of generals 
and officers of the German army, in whose hands the persons now in 
the prisoners’ dock were only tools, executing their fiendish instructions 
and orders. Mankind was aware of the savage nature of fascism 
even before the war, but it saw this in all its repulsiveness and horror 
during the war.” 

Counsel went on to admit that his clients Tishchenko, Paramonov 
and Lastovina had committed heinous crimes, but he appealed to the 
court, when deciding their fate, to take into account their frank con- 
fession of guilt, and the fact that they were merely tools, executing the 
criminal will of the German fascist butchers. 

Advocate V. I. Yakunenko, whom the court had appointed to 
defend Pushkarev, Tuchkov, Kotomtsev and Kladov, rose to speak 
in defence of his clients. He appealed to the court to spare the life 
of the accused Tuchkov. On behalf of Pushkarev, he appealed to 
the court to take into account the fact that when Krasnodar was 
liberated from the German fascist invaders he voluntarily gave himself 
up to the Soviet authorities and made a full and frank confession of 
the crimes he had committed. 

Counsel made a similar appeal on behalf of the accused Kotomtsev 
and Kladov. In conclusion he said : 

“The main burden of responsibility for these crimes rests upon those 
who, like their accomplices, will not escape the hand of justice. Not 
the Gruppenfilhrers of the type of my client Pushkarev, but the 
Fiihrer who is the chief organizer of these innumerable crimes and 
massacres — Adolf Hitler and his gang — must be put in the prisoners’ 
dock to face their stern but just judges.” 

The court then adjourned until next morning. 



Morning Session, 17th July 

The proceedings at the morning session of 17th July were opened 
by the speech of the Advocate A. I. Nazarevsky, whom the court 
had appointed to defend Pavlov, Rechkalov and Misan. 

Referring to the horrors of the six months’ occupation of Krasnodar 
and the Krasnodar Territory by the German fascist invaders, counsel 
appealed to the court to bear in mind that the chief culprits in all these 
fiendish crimes and atrocities should bear the main responsibility 
for all that they have committed. Continuing, he said : 

“The fate of the accused Pavlov is a glaring illustration of the 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



39 



consequences to which loss of courage, and the sense of duty to one’s 
country, lead. This was the original cause of Pavlov’s fall. He was 
caught in the blood-stained net of the Gestapo. He lost his sense of 
duty and his courage, and became a traitor. 

“As for the accused Rechkalov, he was dragged down by his 
criminal past ; but in the evidence he gave before the court he proved 
that he fully appreciated how low he had fallen, and if his life is now 
spared he will not hesitate to sacrifice it in order to expiate the crime 
he has committed against his country. 

“Misan, too, has sincerely confessed his guilt and realizes how 
heinous are the crimes he has committed.” 

On these grounds counsel appealed to the court to spare the lives 
of his clients. 

At the opening of the court proceedings the accused Naptsok 
had declined the services of counsel. The President, therefore, now 
invited him to speak in his own defence. Naptsok, however, declined 
this invitation too. The President then invited the accused to make 
their last statements. 

One after another, all the accused again fully confessed their guilt, 
but pleaded that the court should take into consideration the fact 
that they had been merely the instruments of the criminal will of the 
German fascists, and that they had been driven by fear to take up 
service with them. They begged the court to spare their lives and give 
them the opportunity to expiate the crimes they had committed 
against their country and against the Soviet people. 

The court then adjourned to consider its verdict. 



Afternoon Session, 17th July 

The court reassembled in the afternoon of 17th July, when the 
President pronounced the following verdict. 



VERDICT 

In the Name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 

On 14th to 17th July, 1943, the Military Tribunal of the North- 
Caucasian Front, consisting of the President, Justiciary Colonel N. Y. 
Mayorov , President of the Military Tribunal of the North-Caucasian 
Front, two members : Justiciary Colonel G. K. Zakharyants , Vice- 
President of the Military Tribunal of the same front, and Justice 



40 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Major N. N. Kostrov, member of the Military Tribunal of the same 
front, and a Secretary , Justiciary Major L. A. Gorev ; and assisted by 
the State Prosecutor , Army Procurator, Justiciary Major General L. I. 
Yachenin ; and by Advocates S. K. Kaznacheyev , V. I. Yakunenko 
and A. M. Nazar ev sky, appointed by the court to act as counsel for 
the defence ; sitting in the city of Krasnodar in open session, examined 
the case of the atrocities committed by the German fascist invaders 
and their accomplices in the area of the city of Krasnodar and of 
Krasnodar Territory, in which the following were indicted : 

1. Tishchenko, Vassily Petrovich, born 1914 at Bichevaya Balka 
Farm, Pavlovsk District, Krasnodar Territory. 

2. Rechkalov, Ivan Anisimovich, born 1911 in the village of 
Pichevka, Urgamysh District, Chelyabinsk Region, who has two 
previous convictions against him for larceny and was sentenced on 
each occasion to five years’ deprivation of liberty, which sentences 
he served. 

3. Lastovina, Mikhail Pavlovich, born 1883 in the stanitsa of 
Novo-Titarevskaya, Krasnodar District, Krasnodar Territory, a kulak. 

4. Tuchkov, Grigory Petrovich, born 1909 in the stanitsa of Novo- 
Dimitrievskaya, Soviet District, Krasnodar Territory. 

All four, for committing crimes covered by Art. 58-1 a of the 
Criminal Code of the R.S.F.S.R. 

5. Pushkarev, Nikolai Semenovich, born 1915 in the city of 
Dniepropetrovsk. 

6. Misan, Grigory Nikitovich, born 1916 in the stanitsa of Suzdal- 
skaya, Goryache-Kluchevsky District, Krasnodar Territory. 

7. Naptsok, Yunus Mitsukhovich, born 1914 in the aul [village] 
of Lekushkai, Takhtamukay District, Krasnodar Territory. 

8. Kotomtsev, Ivan Fedorovich, born 1 91 8 in the village of Polonets, 
Zuevsky District, Kirov Region, convicted in 1937 for hooliganism 
and sentenced to two years’ deprivation of liberty, which sentence 
he served. 

9. Pavlov, Vassily Stepanovich, born 1914 in the city of Tashkent. 

10. Paramonov, Ivan Ivanovich, born 1923 in the city of Rostov- 
on-Don. 

1 1 . Kladov, Ignaty Fedorovich, bom 191 1 in the village of Sizikovo, 
Nevyansk District, Sverdlov Region. 

All seven, for committing crimes covered by Art. 58-1 b of the 
Criminal Code of the R.S.F.S.R. 

The materials of the preliminary and court investigation of the 
Military Tribunal of the North-Caucasian Front established the 
following : 

On 9th August, 1942, the German fascist troops temporarily cap- 




The Accused 




##,4l 




Soviet citizens demanding stern retribution 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



41 



tured the city of Krasnodar and Krasnodar Territory and on the direct 
instructions of the Hitler government and by order of Colonel General 
RuofF, Commander of the German 17th Army, and with the most 
active participation of the Gestapo — the German Secret Police — operat- 
ing under the direction of Colonel Christmann, Chief of the Gestapo, 
his second in command, Captain Rabbe, and officers of the Gestapo : 
Paschen, Boss, Sargo, Salge, Hahn, Winz, Erich Meier and Hans 
Munster, Herz and Schuster, the surgeons of the prison and the 
Gestapo, and the Gestapo interpreters Jakob Eicks and Scherterlan, 
jointly with their accomplices — traitors to our Socialist Motherland — 
V. Tishchenko, I. Rechkalov, G. Misan, M. Lastovina, N. Pushkarev, 
G. Tuchkov, I. Paramonov, Y. Naptsok, I. Kotomtsev, V. Pavlov 
and I. Kladov, for over six months engaged in the extermination of 
peaceful inhabitants of the city of Krasnodar and of the Krasnodar 
Territory by diverse brutal methods. The Hitlerite monsters and 
their aforementioned accomplices shot, hanged, asphyxiated with 
carbon monoxide gases and tortured to death many thousands of 
innocent Soviet citizens, including women, the aged and little children. 

The German invaders and their accomplices set fire to industrial 
plants, public buildings and the homes of the civilian population of 
the city of Krasnodar and plundered and destroyed the property of 
state, business, cultural and public organizations in the city of Kras- 
nodar and in the Krasnodar Territory. They robbed the inhabitants 
of all their food stocks and other property, and transported a large 
number of Soviet citizens to Germany there to toil as slaves. In 
February, 1943, after the invaders were driven from the Krasnodar 
Territory by the Red Army, all the aforementioned fiendish crimes 
were fully brought to light by the Soviet authorities. 

The court investigation also established that the Hitlerites engaged 
in the systematic torture and burning to death of many Soviet citizens 
who had been arrested by the Gestapo and had been confined in the 
cellar of the Gestapo premises, and that they deliberately exterminated 
by poisoning with carbon monoxide gases in especially equipped 
motor vehicles known as “murder vans” about seven thousand innocent 
Soviet citizens, including over seven hundred sick persons who were 
receiving treatment in medical institutions in the city of Krasnodar 
and in the Krasnodar Territory, of whom forty-two were children 
between the ages of 5 and 16. 

Having heard the explanations of the defendants, the evidence of 
witnesses, the report of the Committee of Experts and also the pleas 
of the State Prosecution and the defence, the Military Tribunal has 
established the guilt of each of the defendants as follows : 

1. Tishchenko, in August, 1942, voluntarily joined the German 



42 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Police Force. In September, 1942, he was, by way of encouragement, 
promoted, first to the rank of Sergeant-major in the punitive body 
of the Gestapo known as the Sonderkommando aS-S-IO-#, and then 
to the post of investigator of the Gestapo, while at the same time 
serving as a secret agent of the latter. 

Holding the aforementioned posts in the service of the German 
invaders, Tishchenko, together with Boss and other officers of the 
Gestapo, often made excursions to round up guerrillas, Communists, 
and other Soviet citizens who were active in public life. Under the 
direction of the Gestapo officers Sargo and Salge, he acted as investi- 
gator in the cases of these citizens and flogged them in the process, 
and was responsible for the asphyxiation of several Soviet citizens 
in his custody by means of carbon monoxide in specially equipped 
vehicles known as “murder vans.” 

2. Pushkarev, in August, 1942, voluntarily joined the Hitler Police 
Force and was shortly afterwards promoted to the rank of Gruppen- 
fiihrer , i.e., Platoon Commander, in the aforementioned Sonder- 
kommando. 

Pushkarev, jointly with the Hitlerite officers Stein, Herz, Hahn 
and others, and under the command of Colonel Christmann, Chief 
of the Gestapo, repeatedly visited the stanitsas of Gladkovskaya and 
Krasny Psebebs, the town of Anapa and other places, for provocative 
and punitive purposes, and there participated in the search for, arrest 
and shooting of guerrillas and other Soviet citizens active in public life. 

As chief of the guard of the Gestapo, Pushkarev stood guard over 
Soviet citizens, took part in torturing and assaulting them, and was 
present when they were loaded in the “murder vans” in which the 
German fascist butchers put people to death by poisoning them with 
carbon monoxide. 

In the beginning of February, 1943, before the Germans were driven 
from the city of Krasnodar, he helped the Gestapo officials to set fire 
to and blow up the premises of the Gestapo where arrested Soviet 
citizens were confined, as a result of which the latter perished. 

3. Rechkalov, in August, 1942, having been released before the 
expiration of his term from the prison where he was undergoing sen- 
tence for larceny and evading service in the Red Army, deserted to 
the German fascist invaders and voluntarily joined the German Police 
Force, in which, as a reward for zealous service, he was soon transferred 
to the Sonderkommando SS-\0-a of the Gestapo, where he regularly 
served as a sentry, guarding arrested Soviet citizens, and saw the way 
they were tortured. 

4. Misan repeatedly helped to load arrested Soviet citizens in 



KRASNODAR TRIAL 



43 



the “murder vans” in which the Gestapo officials put them to death 
by means of carbon monoxide. 

Misan volunteered to shoot citizen Gubsky, who was carrying on 
anti-fascist activities. Misan shot Gubsky, thereby winning the 
confidence of the German invaders, and was afterwards appointed a 
secret agent of the Gestapo. 

5. Kotomtsev, in September, 1942, voluntarily joined the German 
Police Force at the war prisoners’ camp, and in November, 1942, 
voluntarily joined the Sonderkommando SS-10-a, in the ranks of 
which he actively assisted the Gestapo to exterminate Soviet citizens, 

« and participated in punitive expeditions against partisans. 

In January, 1943, Kotomtsev, with a punitive unit, took part in 
rounding up and arresting guerrillas at Kurundupe Farm and the 
stanitsa of Krymskaya. At Kurundupe Farm he actively assisted in 
hanging a girl for being in communication with the guerrillas ; and 
at the stanitsa of Krymskaya he took part in hanging sixteen Soviet 
citizens. 

6. Naptsok voluntarily joined the Sonderkommando SS-10-a 
of the Gestapo, where he regularly stood guard over the Soviet citizens 
who were confined in the dungeons of the Gestapo. On many occa- 
sions he went out with punitive expeditions to round up and exter- 
minate guerrillas and other Soviet citizens. In January, this year, he 
actively participated in the hanging of several Soviet citizens in the 
stanitsa of Gastogaevskaya, and at Kurundupe Farm. 

7. Kladov, in September, 1942, during the temporary occupation 
of the city of Krasnodar by the Germans, voluntarily joined the 
Sonderkommando SS-10-a of the Gestapo, where he stood guard 
over arrested people and at the same time acted as secret agent in 
searching for guerrillas and other persons who were assisting the Red 
Army. 

8. Lastovina, fleeing from justice as a kulak, arrived in the city of 
Krasnodar in 1932 and obtained a situation as a male nurse in a 
hospital. In December, 1942, while the German fascist invaders 
were in temporary occupation of the city of Krasnodar, he helped the 
officials of the Gestapo to shoot sixty sick Soviet citizens. 

9. Tuchkov, during the temporary occupation of the city of Kras- 
nodar by the German invaders, voluntarily joined the German Police 
Force and then transferred to the Sonderkommando SS-10-a, in 
the ranks of which he, on three occasions, took part in rounding up 
and arresting persons who were in sympathy with the Soviet regime. 

10 and 11. Paramonov and Pavlov voluntarily joined the Sonder- 
kommando SS-\Q-a of the Gestapo and remained in the ranks until 
the fascists were driven from the city of Krasnodar, standing guard 



44 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



over the persons arrested and confined at the premises of the Gestapo, 
and taking part in the rounding up and arrest of guerrillas. 

Thus, the guilt of all the aforementioned accused of the crime of 
treason to the country is proved by their own confessions and the 
evidence of witnesses. 

In conformity with Articles 319-320 of the Code of Criminal 
Procedure of the R.S.F.S.R., and guided by the Ukase of the Presidium 
of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., of 19th April, 1943, concerning 
traitors to the country, the Military Tribunal SENTENCES : 

Tishchenko, Vassily Petrovich; Rechkalov, Ivan Anisimovich; 
Lastovina, Mikhail Pavlovich; Pushkarev, Nikolai Semenovich; 
Misan, Grigory Nikitovich; Naptsok, Yunus Mitsukhovich; Kotom- 
tsev, Ivan Fedorovich and Kladov, Ignaty Fedorovich — to death by 
hanging. 

Tuchkov, Grigory Petrovich; Pavlov, Vassily Stepanovich and 
Paramonov, Ivan Ivanovich — being the least active of the accomplices 
convicted of assisting the German fascist criminals in their fiendish 
treatment of the Soviet civilian population and Red Army prisoners 
of war — to exile and penal servitude for the term of twenty years each. 

This verdict is final and not subject to appeal. 



Signed : Justiciary Colonel N. Mayorov, 

President. 

Justiciary Colonel G. Zakharyants, 
Justiciary Major N. Kostrov, 

Members of the Tribunal . 



THE TRIAL 



Of the Case of the Atrocities Committed by the 
German Fascist Invaders in 
KHARKOV and the KHARKOV REGION 

Proceedings in the trial of the case of the atrocities committed by 
the German fascist invaders in the town and region of Kharkov 
during the period of their temporary occupation were opened in 
Kharkov on 15th December, 1943, before the Military Tribunal of 
the 4th Ukrainian Front, president Justiciary Major-General A. N. 
Miasnikov, and with the participation of the State Prosecutor, 
Justiciary Colonel N. K. Dunayev. 

Those committed for trial in the present case and charged with 
crimes covered by the Order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet 
of the U.S.S.R. of 19th April, 1943, were: 

Corporal of Auxiliary Police Reinhard Retzlaff, official of the 
560th Group of German Secret Field Police ; Officer of the German 
Military Counter-Espionage Service Wilhelm Langheld; S.S. Unter- 
sturmfiihrer Hans Ritz, Assistant S.S. Company Commander of the 
S.D. Sonderkommando ; and their accomplice the traitor to the 
motherland, Bulanov, who served as a chauffeur with the Kharkov 
S.D. Sonderkommando. 

The board of medico-legal experts taking part in the proceedings 
was composed of: the chief medico-legal expert of the People’s 
Commissar for Health of the U.S.S.R., Director of the Research 
Institute of Forensic Medicine V. I. Prozorovsky; Professor of 
Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow Medical Institute V. M. 
Smolyaninov ; senior staff member of the Institute of Forensic Medicine 
Semenovsky; chief medico-legal expert of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, 
Major of Medical Service M. P. Pritvorov; medico-legal expert 
Major of Medical Service Gorodnichenko ; and pathologist-anatomist 
Major of Medical Service Yakash. 

Counsel appointed by the Court for the defence were N. B. 
Kommodov, C. K. Kaznacheyev and N. P. Belov. 

The presiding judge interrogated the defendants and witnesses 
and warned the latter of their duty to testify the truth. He then 
warned the medico-legal experts that they must present their findings 

45 



46 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



in conformity with their special knowledge. The interpreters of the 
court were then warned that their duty was to interpret all questions 
and answers with absolute precision. 

When the questioning of accused and witnesses was completed, 
the court heard the indictment, which was read by the Secretary of 
the Court, Justiciary Captain Kandibin. 

The indictment gives a detailed account of the massacres and 
torture to which were subjected perfectly innocent Soviet people, who 
were exterminated by the thousand by the German fascist monsters 
in the town and region of Kharkov. The text of the indictment 
follows : 



The Indictment 

In the case of the atrocities committed by the German fascist 
invaders in the town of Kharkov and the Region of Kharkov during 
the period of their temporary occupation. 

As the German fascist invaders are being expelled from Soviet 
territory, ever greater crimes committed by the troops of the German 
Army are coming to light. After the liberation of the city and Region 
of Kharkov numerous facts were revealed of the monstrous exter- 
mination by the Germans of peaceful Soviet citizens, including women, 
old men and children. 

Under the direction of their superiors, the German fascist troops 
asphyxiated in specially equipped gas lorries — “murder vans” — 
hanged, shot or tortured to death many tens of thousands of Soviet 
people; plundered the property of State, economic, cultural and 
public organizations; burned down and destroyed entire towns and 
thousands of inhabited places; and drove to slavery in Germany 
hundreds of thousands of the peaceful population. 

All these crimes and outrages are not isolated facts, but only a 
link in the long chain of crimes which have been and are being com- 
mitted by the German invaders on the direct instructions of the German 
Government and the Supreme Command of the German Army. 

Long before the war, even, Hitler, the leader of the German 
fascists, in expounding his plans for the enslavement of Europe, 
pointed out the necessity for exterminating the Slav peoples — Russians, 
Ukrainians, Poles, Czechs and others. Hitler’s closest associate. 
Goring, acting on the principles enunciated by his master, called upon 
the Germans to murder Soviet citizens. These cannibalistic principles 
of the fascist leaders have formed and to-day form the basis of the 
education of the German Army, which has yielded sanguinary results. 

For the practical implementation of Hitler’s plans to exterminate 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



47 



the Slav peoples, the German Command introduced in its military 
schools and colleges a special course of lectures on the subject of the 
necessity of exterminating the Soviet people. Thus, the accused in 
the present case, Corporal Reinhard Retzlaff of the German Army, 
who passed a course of training in the Independent “Altenburg” 
Battalion, stated at the preliminary examination : 

“At the courses there were even arranged several lectures by 
leading officials of the German Secret Field Police who directly stated 
that the peoples of the Soviet Union, especially of Russian nationality, 
are inferior, and the overwhelming majority of them are to be exter- 
minated while an insignificant minority are to be used as slaves by 
German landowners. These instructions were the outcome of the 
policy of the German Government with regard to the peoples of 
occupied territories and it must be admitted that in practice every 
member of the German Army, including myself, carried them out 
infallibly.” (Vol. II, page 67.) 

When the war against the U.S.S.R. broke out the German troops 
proceeded to put these principles into effect in the temporarily occupied 
districts of the U.S.S.R. Invading the territory of our country, 
encountering the resistance of the Soviet people, the German armies 
and punitive organs began to practise brigandage and murder on a 
large scale against perfectly innocent Soviet people. 

Having been taken prisoner by the Red Army, Obersturmbannfiihrer 
Georg Heinisch, formerly assistant chief of Hess’s general staff, a 
member of the National Socialist Party since 1923, and holding, in 
temporarily occupied Soviet territory, the post of District Commissar 
of the town of Melitopol, stated during his interrogation : 

“In mid- August, 1943, a conference of 28 District Commissioners 
of the Ukraine was held in a settlement near the town of Rovno. 
The deliberations of the conference were directed by Reichskommissar 
of the Ukraine, Koch. It was evident from reports of the District 
Commissars that the population was resisting compulsory mobilization 
for work in Germany. In this connection Koch spoke of the necessity 
for adopting severer measures against the population without restricting 
themselves to the extermination of a few thousand superfluous people. 
In particular he stated that he had decided to dispatch for work in 
Germany the maximum number of able-bodied inhabitants of districts 
of the Northern Ukraine, and completely to exterminate the rest of 
the population of these districts, because several elusive guerrilla 
detachments operated in them, and repressive measures previously 
carried out against the peaceful population — burning down of villages, 
mass shootings and extermination of the population of these districts — 
had, according to Koch, not yielded satisfactory results. 



48 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



“The extermination of the greatest numbers of citizens of Soviet 
Russia can only be of benefit to Germany, as it is bound to weaken 
Russia. 

“These last words of Koch express the policy of Hitler and his 
staff, a policy which they carried out with particular brazenness 
during the retreat when all inhabited places were completely destroyed 
and their population compulsorily evacuated. 

“Those who refused to be evacuated were shot on the spot. 

“Children, old men and also women were driven off by the Germans 
to die of hunger, as no one supplied them with food, and from sickness 
and privation. It is clear that these measures had no other design 
than the extermination of the maximum number of Soviet citizens, 
so that the Bolsheviks might be deprived of labour-power and 
reinforcements for the army.” (Vol. 3, pp. 9-10.) 

Thus the brutal extermination of Soviet people by means of 
asphyxiating them in gas lorries — “murder vans”— by shootings and 
beatings, violence and plunder perpetrated by German troops in the 
city and Region of Kharkov, constitute the fulfilment of the monstrous 
plans of the ruling clique of fascist Germany for the extermination 
of the Soviet people. 

Investigation has established that the atrocities, violence and 
plunder in the town and Region of Kharkov were committed by 
officers and men of the German Army and in particular by: S.S. 
Division “Adolf Hitler,” commanded by Obergruppenfuhrer of 
S.S. Troops Dietrich; S.S. Division “Totenkopf,” commanded by 
Gruppenfiihrer of S.S. Troops Simon ; the German Punitive Organs : 
the Kharkov S.D. Sonderkommando led by its commander, Sturm- 
bannfiihrer Hanebitter; the group of German Secret Field Police in 
the town of Kharkov, headed by Polizei Kommissar Karchan and his 
deputy — Police Secretary Wulf ; the 560th Group of Secret Field Police 
attached to the staff of the 6th German Army — Polizei Kommissar 
Mehritz ; the defendants in the present case : Reinhard RetzlafF, official 
of the 560th Group of the German Secret Field Police; Wilhelm 
Langheld, Captain of German Military Counter-Espionage Service ; 
Hans Ritz, Assistant Commander of the S.S. Company S.D. Sonder- 
kommando ; Mikhail Bulanov, chauffeur of the Kharkov S.D. 
Sonderkommando. 

The prelimary examination has established the system followed : 

Asphyxiation with carbon monoxide in specially equipped auto- 
mobile “murder vans” of many thousands of Soviet people ; 

Brutal massacres of peaceful Soviet citizens and destruction of 
towns and villages of temporarily occupied territory ; 

Mass extermination of old people, women and small children ; 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



49 



Shooting, burning and brutal treatment of Soviet wounded and 
war prisoners. 

All this constitutes a flagrant violation of the rules for the conduct 
of war established by international conventions, and of all generally 
accepted legal standards. 



I 

The proceedings in the case of atrocities committed by the German 
invaders in the town of Krasnodar, which took place in July, 1943, 
established the existence of specially equipped motor vans called 
“murder vans,” in which German punitive organs asphyxiated peaceful 
Soviet citizens by poisoning them with carbon monoxide. 

Medico-legal experts who exhumed and examined bodies found 
in an anti-tank ditch near Krasnodar stated in their post-mortem 
findings on 29th June, 1943 : “The skin, skeletal muscles and mucous 
membranes of Ups, stomach, intestines, pericardium and peritoneum 
were either a pale pink or bright cherry colour, also noted in some 
cases in sections of internal organs such as the kidneys, lungs and 
heart. Spectroscopic and chemical examinations of the blood and 
portions of organs removed for biopsy showed that in 523 cases out 
of 623 bodies, death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.” 

As established by the investigation similar “gas lorries,” which were 
nicknamed “murder vans,” were used by the Germans for murdering 
peaceful Soviet citizens not only in Krasnodar but also in Kharkov. 

These vans, as testified by the German defendants in the present 
case and also by witnesses who witnessed the crimes committed by 
the Germans, are large closed trucks of dark grey colour, driven by 
Diesel engines. 

The vans are lined inside with galvanized iron and have air-tight 
folding doors at the back. The floor is equipped with a wooden 
grating under which passes a pipe with apertures. This pipe is 
connected to the exhaust pipe of the engine. The exhaust gases of 
the Diesel engine, containing highly concentrated carbon monoxide, 
enter the body of the van, causing rapid poisoning and asphyxiation 
of the people locked up in the van. 

The accused in the present case, Corporal Reinhard Retzlaff of 
the German Army, and official of a group of the German Secret Field 
Police in the city of Kharkov, who directly participated in the murder 
of Soviet people in gas lorries — “murder vans” — stated: 

“Mass executions by hanging and shooting seemed to the German 
Command too troublesome and slow a way of accomplishing the 

D 



50 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



assignments set to the punitive organs and therefore one had to think 
of simpler methods of exterminating the population and it can be 
said that these were found. Once, early in March, 1942, as I came 
to the jail, my attention was drawn to a group of policemen, crowding 
near a large dark grey truck at the very entrance to the jail with the 
back doors flung open. Seeing among the crowd of policemen my 
acquaintance the S.D. employee, Kaminsky (a German from Berlin, 
who prior to the war, served in an S.S. detachment) I asked him what 
kind of truck this was and what it was intended for. Kaminsky 
stated that it was a “gas lorry” intended for killing people. Later, 
1 had many opportunities of observing the work of this van and on 
several occasions I directly assisted in putting arrested persons held 
in the Kharkov jail into it. On these occasions I found that the 
gas lorry fully served its purpose.” (Vol. 2, pp. 68-69.) 

The use of gas lorries — “murder vans” — by the Germans for the 
extermination of Soviet citizens is also confirmed by the accused in 
the present case — the German Untersturmfiihrer Hans Ritz, Assistant 
S.S. Company Commander ; Captain Wilhelm Langheld of the German 
Army, officer of Military Counter-Espionage ; and the traitor to the 
Motherland, Mikhail Bulanov, chauffeur of the Kharkov S.D. 
Sonderkommando, and also by the witnesses : the German Obersturm- 
bannfuhrer Heinisch, District Commissar of the town of Melitopol; 
Karl Kosch, engineer of a company of the 79th German Infantry 
Division ; and Ivan Boiko, chauffeur of the Kharkov S.D. Sonder- 
kommando. The witness Obersturmbannfuhrer Heinisch stated : 

“In the S.D. (Security Service) a so-called ‘gas lorry’ was manu- 
factured. Outwardly it hardly differs from an ordinary prison van, 
but its body is hermetically closed and exhaust gases pass from the 
engine along a special pipe to the body. This van holds several 
dozen persons. They are usually told that they are to be dispatched 
to another jail or camp. When the van starts the gases penetrate 
inside the lorry and the people are asphyxiated.” (Vol. 3, p. 4.) 

Testifying to the use of this horrible murder instrument, the 
German accused in the present case drew a monstrous picture of the 
preparations for the killings, and the violence used against Soviet 
citizens when being loaded into the gas lorries — murder vans. 

The same testimony was given by Corporal Retzlaff : “When it 
came to putting women into the van the most horrible scenes took 
place. All women without exception, not to mention children, sobbed, 
fell on their knees and implored us to spare them, the weeping of the 
women intermingled with the cries of the children, who appealed to 
us, the direct perpetrators of these atrocities, to spare them. But in 
reply they received kicks, blows with rifle and pistol butts. On such 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



51 



occasions I and other officials of the Secret Field Police and the S.D. 
bound the women and put them into the van. As regards the children 
it was simpler; they were seized by their arms or often by the legs 
and flung into the lorry. These deeds brought down curses on the 
Germans, and the courtyard was filled with heartrending shrieks and 
appeals for help and mercy. I remember the case when a woman, 
before whose eyes an S.D. officer had flung her child into the van, 
pommelled the officer and dug her hands into his face, scratching it 
till the blood came. But in most cases short shrift was made of such 
recalcitrant prisoners : they were shot on the spot and then flung into 
the van.” (Vol. 2, pp. 94-95.) 

Witness Ivan Semenovich Boiko who worked as a chauffeur for 
the Kharkov S.D. Sonderkommando and who, in this capacity, 
witnessed many crimes committed by the Germans, testified : “Real- 
izing that they had been deceived and that death awaited them, the 
sick people who were being put into the van resisted ; but the Gestapo 
men, with blows from rifle butts and clubs, drove them into the van 
and compelled those who were not so sick to pull into the van persons 
who could not move unaided. Cries for help and the sobbing of 
women resounded from the van. When some 50 patients and their 
attendants had been thrust into the gas van its doors were slammed 
and it drove off beyond the town.” (Vol. 3, p. 87.) 

Witness Ulyana Podkopay, residing in Rybnaya St., Kharkov, in 
which was situated the Gestapo garage where the murder vans were 
kept, testified: “There were men, women and children among the 
arrested and the Gestapo men drove them into the murder vans with 
kicks and rifle butts. Many had bruises and blood on their faces, 
their clothing was tom, women and children sobbed, but the Gestapo 
men seized them and forcibly pushed them into the van. When the 
van was crammed full with people and the Germans were just about 
to shut it up, two Gestapo men brought out a weeping woman with 
two little girls aged about eight and ten into the courtyard. One of 
the children, not realizing what was happening, exclaimed : ‘Mamma, 
come quickly or the car will leave without us.’ When the woman 
approached the van and heard the cries and groans inside, she wept 
the more and held back, but was forcibly pushed into it. One of the 
little girls now also began to cry and to scream ‘Mamma! Mamma!’ 
Gestapo men standing near by seized the two little girls and flung 
them into the van after their demented and terrified mother. After 
that the doors of the van were slammed and it drove out of the prison.” 
(Vol. 3, p. 182.) 

The investigation has also established that after murdering Soviet 
people in the “murder vans,” the German invaders conveyed their 



52 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



bodies to the outskirts of Kharkov, dumped them in empty barracks 
or other half-demolished buildings, poured petrol over them and set 
them on fire. 

Accused Retzlaff, Corporal of the German Army, made the follow- 
ing testimony on this point : 

“At the end of March, 1942, I helped to load people into the 
‘gas van’ and then was ordered by Hanebitter to accompany the van 
to the place where it was to be unloaded. We drove through the city 
and stopped at the barracks of the Kharkov tractor works. Then 
Hanebitter, who was the head of the S.I. detachment, ordered the 
men of the Sonderkommando who were with us to unload the bodies 
and I saw with my own eyes that there were already a large number of 
corpses, evidently brought there earlier. When we had finished 
unloading, Hanebitter ordered all lorries to be driven to one side, 
except one which had carried a group of men of the Sonderkom- 
mando. On Hanebitter’s instructions the men took several cans of 
petrol from the lorry, entered the barracks, poured the petrol over 
all the bodies and over some outside parts of the barracks and then set 
fire to it.” (Vol. 2, pp. 95-96.) 

The fact that the Germans had burned the bodies of people whom 
they had murdered in gas lorries — “murder vans” — in the barracks 
of the Kharkov tractor plant, apart from the testimony of the accused 
Retzlaff, is confirmed by the testimony of the witnesses Danili 
Alexandrovich Serikov, Porfiri Josevich Rizvan, and by the findings 
of the medico-legal experts who effected the exhumation and 
examination of the bodies discovered on the territory of the city of 
Kharkov and its districts. Having investigated the circumstances 
of the burning of the bodies in the barracks of the Kharkov tractor 
plant, and the remains of bodies and bones which were exhumed during 
the excavation of the site of the burned-down barracks, the medico- 
legal experts state, in their findings, dated 15th September, 1943: 

“During the examination of the sites of several burned-down 
barracks of the Kharkov tractor plant a considerable number of 
charred human bones and whole skulls, with no signs of physical 
injury, were discovered. During the excavation, one of several slit 
trenches (open) near a burned-down barrack was found to contain 
charred human bones (clavicles, ribs and vertebrae) as well as whole 
skulls without sign of physical injury among the ashes, earth and 
garbage. In addition there were found burnt shreds of clothing, 
spoons, pots, a metal fastener of a woman’s handbag, etc.” 

Fearing to be made answerable for their monstrous crimes and for 
the extermination of Soviet people in specially equipped motor 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



53 



vehicles, the German fascists have recently begun to take measures 
to conceal the fact that they used this instrument of death. 

Obersturmbannfuhrer Heinisch stated at his interrogation that in 
July, 1943, at a secret conference of five district Commissioners of 
the Taurida region, the S.D. and Gestapo chief of the Crimea and 
Taurida, Lt. General of Police von Alvensleben, stated that Hitler 
was extremely annoyed about the talkativeness of persons who in 
some way or another had learned about the existence of the “gas 
lorries.” As a result of this talkativeness, von Alvensleben said, and 
also as a result of the carelessness of certain S.D. and Gestapo chiefs, 
documents concerning the “gas lorries” had fallen into the hands of 
Russians. In this connection, Heinisch stated at his interrogation, 
von Alvensleben conveyed to them Hitler’s orders on measures 
necessary to put an end to such talkativeness and introduce stricter 
secrecy in the use of the “gas lorries.” (Vol. 3, p. 5.) 



II 

In their efforts to exterminate the greatest possible number of 
peaceful Soviet citizens, the German invaders murdered people not 
only in gas lorries — “murder vans,” but also by mass shootings, 
hangings and tortures. 

As a result of systematic round-ups and mass arrests of peaceful 
Soviet citizens, as testified by the defendants in the present case — 
RetzlafF, Ritz, Langheld and the traitor to the motherland Bulanov — 
the jails of the Gestapo and other German punitive organizations 
were packed with perfectly innocent Soviet people. During interroga- 
tion of each arrested person, irrespective of the existence of evidence 
against him, fascist officials of the punitive organization subjected 
him to inhuman torture and beatings with ramrods, rubber clubs, 
whips and sticks, thus extorting “testimony.” Many of the prisoners 
were beaten up to such an extent that they died in the course of 
interrogation. A spectacle of particular horror was the massacre of 
Soviet children and adolescents by the German monsters. There 
were by no means isolated instances of Germans throwing little 
children into pits and burying them alive. 

In Kharkov, on Gestapo orders, many peaceful Soviet citizens 
were moved from their flats in the city to specially designated barracks 
on the territory of a workers’ settlement of the Kharkov tractor plant. 
According to the accused Bulanov, Soviet citizens on their way from 
the city to the workers’ settlement were repeatedly plundered and 
subjected to humiliations. Having put the people in barracks, the 



54 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Germans divided them into groups of two or three hundred people, 
including adolescents, children and old folk, and then, under the 
pretext of sending them to the deep rear, drove them to a gully, 
four to five kilometres away from the settlement of the Kharkov 
tractor works, where they were shot near large pits which had been 
prepared beforehand. 

In December, 1941, Gestapo men shot 900 Soviet citizens who 
were undergoing treatment at the Kharkov hospital. Among them 
were many children and old people. They were shot four to five 
kilometres from Kharkov, near the Chugayev road. Their bodies 
filled two big pits dug beforehand for this purpose. 

The accused Bulanov, who participated in these shootings, 
testified : “I was ordered to drive a three-ton lorry to the hospital in 
the outskirts of Kharkov. There I found more lorries. As soon as 
I parked my lorry by the main entrance of one of the hospital buildings, 
the Gestapo men began to take out patients clad only in their under- 
wear, and loaded them on the lorries. There were up to 40 persons 
in each lorry. Having loaded my lorry I drove these people to the 
shooting site which was surrounded by Gestapo men. The patients 
were dragged out of the lorries and put by the edge of a ditch. 
Heartrending sobs and shrieks by adults and children filled the air. 
Sick people begged for mercy but the Gestapo men paid no attention 
to this, shot all of them and threw the bodies into the ditch. As far 
as I can remember, particular brutality was displayed by the Gestapo 
interpreter, Hans Berg, and the medical orderly, Alex. Both of them 
knocked down whoever resisted, pushed them into the ditch and shot 
them. I saw how some of those who had resisted and been thrown 
into the ditch tried to rise; they were wounded and covered with 
blood. They were again knocked down and on the orders of the 
instigators of this crime — the chief of the Gestapo and the interpreter 
Hans Berg — they were buried while still alive. Many adolescents 
and children were among those who were buried alive.” (Vol. 2, 
pp. 255-256.) 

The forest park near the Sokolniki settlement on the outskirts of 
Kharkov is densely dotted with graves containing the victims of the 
German fascist terror. Describing the ghastly scenes of the shooting 
of Soviet people in the park the witnesses, Alexander Filipovich 
Bespalov and Darya Vasilyevna Danilenko, residents of the Sokolniki 
settlement, who had been involuntary eye-witnesses of the German 
crimes, testified that in the course of 1942 and 1943 the German 
fascists used to bring several van-loads of people doomed to death 
to the forest-park almost daily. Here they subjected them to humilia- 
tions and torture and then shot them. Some of the prisoners assaulted 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



55 



the Germans but they were knocked down, stabbed with bayonets, 
kicked and beaten up with rifle butts. Heartrending groans of dying 
people could be heard in the forest. Some people writhing in death 
agony were flung by the German executioners into the ditches in this 
state. 

The witness Bespalov, describing one such brutal massacre, stated : 
“At the end of June, 1942, I personally saw how some 300 girls and 
women were brought to the forest park in ten or twelve lorries. The 
unhappy people threw themselves from side to side in their terror, 
screamed and tore their hair and clothes. Many of them fainted, 
but the German fascists took no heed of this. With kicks and blows 
with rifle butts and clubs they forced them to rise to their feet. Those 
who would not rise were stripped by the executioners and thrown into 
the pit. Several girls who had children with them tried to flee but 
were killed. I saw how, after a tommy-gun burst, some women, 
staggering and helplessly waving their hands, with heartrending 
shrieks, staggered towards the Germans who stood there. The 
Germans fired on them from their pistols. Demented by fear and 
grief, mothers tightly clutching their babies with heartrending cries 
ran around the clearing trying to save themselves. Gestapo men 
snatched the children from them by the leg or arm and threw them 
alive into the ditch, and when the mothers ran after them towards the 
ditch, they were shot.” (Vol. 3, pp. 162-163.) 

Confirming the facts of the shooting of Soviet people in the forest 
park, the witness Danilenko testified : 

“At the end of January, 1943, at the same spot for two days the 
Germans were shooting Soviet citizens. During those two terrible 
days firing was heard in the forest and incredible shrieks of people ; 
the voices were of men, women and children. 

“In the spring of 1943 when the snow had melted and the earth 
filling the ditches had subsided, I went with other residents to cover 
up the ditches. When I came to the place where our Soviet citizens 
had been shot I saw that both pits were packed with their bodies. 
Naked human arms and legs could be seen sticking out of the thin 
layer of earth.” (Vol. 3, p. 152.) 



Ill 

The standards of international law prohibit cruel treatment of 
prisoners of war. According to these international standards, war 
prisoners — wounded and sick — must enjoy protection on the part of 
the belligerent in whose power they find themselves. However, 



56 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



trampling down all international legal provisions, the German fascist 
cut-throats systematically exterminated and continue to exterminate 
wounded Soviet war prisoners. Furthermore, the German Military 
Command confines in war prisoners’ camps, Soviet civilians who fall 
into their hands in temporarily occupied territory of the Soviet Union 
and regards them as war prisoners. 

Witness Sergeant-major Heinz Jantschi of the German Army, 
assistant to an officer of the counter-espionage in a war prisoners’ 
camp called “Dulag-231,” testified : “Along with Soviet war prisoners 
there were in the camp Dulag-231 also civilians who had been seized 
in the occupied territory of the Soviet Union and were regarded by the 
German command as war prisoners. Among them were old people, 
women and children. I know that not only in our camp were there 
civilian prisoners taken on Soviet territory occupied by German 
troops and officially designated as prisoners of war, but also in 
other German camps. Soviet civilians are confined to war prisoners’ 
camps under the pretext of evacuation of the population or of recruit- 
ment of labour-power for dispatch to Germany, and finally for the 
purpose of the isolation of undesirable elements including children 
and adolescents as potential fighters in anti-German formations.’’ 
(Vol. 3, pp. 38-9.) 

With the intention of exterminating Soviet prisoners of war, sick 
and wounded, and civilian population, the Germans instituted 
unbearable conditions for the maintenance of sick and wounded in 
hospitals and in camps for prisoners of war and peaceful citizens. 
They were starved, denied medical assistance, and excessive over- 
crowding and lack of elementary sanitary conditions resulted in mass 
epidemics and a terrific mortality rate. Without any reason at all, 
or on the strength of fabricated “evidence,” wounded and war 
prisoners alike were burned alive, tortured and subjected to humilia- 
tions down to setting dogs on them. All these German crimes are 
confirmed by the testimonies of the accused Ritz and Langheld, and 
the witnesses : the German Jantschi, Professor E. S. Katkov, Dr. G. Z. 
Dzhenchviladze, medical nurse V. A. Sokolskaya, M. A. Kozlova 
and others, and are also confirmed by the protocols of the medico- 
legal experts. 

Accused in the present case, Captain Langheld of the German 
Army, who directly participated in all these murders and outrages, 
testified to the inhuman torture of Soviet war prisoners and civilians 
in German camps. Langheld said: “The atrocities committed by 
German officers and men on Russian people by means of extermina- 
tions, starvation, beating up of exhausted persons, shootings, setting 
dogs on people, etc., were in accordance with the principles of the 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



57 



German Government towards Russian people. People were shot 
on my order on a number of occasions. For instance, in May to 
June, 1942, in Dergachi near Kharkov, I had a group of Russian 
prisoners, about 20 persons, shot on the charge of maintaining contact 
with the local population. I admit that the charges were trumped 
up ; in fact, that those people were exterminated just because they were 
Russians. Another occasion was the shooting of a group of Russian 
officers at an assembly and transit point for war prisoners in the 
autumn of 1941. Choosing ten officers of middle rank, I ordered 
soldiers to shoot them with tommy-guns in front of all the other war 
prisoners. The bodies of the men shot were thrown into a ditch, 
which had been prepared beforehand. As a rule the Russians refused 
to betray military secrets and that is why I beat them with a club of 
some four to five centimetres thick, after which the interrogated men 
often had to be carried out of my office. This beating of war 
prisoners was practised in all units of the German Army. During 
the distribution of the scanty rations, soldiers of the escort used to 
set dogs on the exhausted and hungry people. The dogs jumped 
into the crowd, tore to shreds the domes and bodies of the war 
prisoners, knocked them down, dragged and mauled them on the 
ground. Some of the badly mauled prisoners and civilians were then 
shot by soldiers and thrown over the fence so as to avoid bothering 
about their treatment.” (Vol. 2, pp. 194-195.) 

In March, 1943, the Germans shot and burned 800 wounded men 
and officers of the Red Army, who were receiving treatment at the First 
Army Evacuation Hospital of the 69th Army in Trinkler Street, 
Kharkov. 

Describing the circumstances of this crime, the witnesses Professor 
Katkov, Dr. Dzhenchviladze and the medical nurse Sokolskaya, 
employed at the hospital at that time, said: “On 13th March, 1943, 
three automobiles with S.S. men of the ‘Adolf Hitler’ division drove 
up to the hospital. They shut the door of block No. 8 and threw an 
incendiary shell into the building. It caught fire. When the wounded 
tried to save themselves by jumping out of the windows, they were 
shot down by the S.S. men with automatic rifles. The next day, a 
group of nine S.S. men came to the hospital and, driving the medical 
personnel out of the wards, shot all the remaining wounded in the other 
blocks of the hospital.” 

The witness Maria Alexandrovna Kozlova, whose husband was 
brutally killed during this Hitlerite carnage, testified : 

“While on active service with the Red Army my husband was 
wounded and sent for treatment to the First Army Hospital, situated 
at that time in the town of Kharkov. On 15th March I decided to 



58 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



take him a parcel. When I got to the site of the hospital, I could not 
recognize it as the same hospital in which my husband was being 
treated. 

“A ghastly sight confronted me. Everywhere were piles of ruins 
and all over the place were strewn the bodies of charred and brutally 
tortured Soviet citizens. When I saw this monstrous crime, I was 
beside myself and rushed into the fourth block, which was untouched 
by the fire. I was filled with horror when I came to the first ward. 
Heaped in it were piles of corpses mutilated beyond recognition. 
Frantic, I rushed over to my husband’s bed. It was empty and covered 
with blood. At that moment I saw the body of my husband, mutilated 
and covered with blood, lying on the floor between the beds. The 
head was bashed in, one eye had been knocked out, the arms were 
broken and blood still flowed from gaping wounds.” (Vol. 3, pp. 
146-147.) 

Thus it has been established by the data of the investigation — 
testimony of defendants and witnesses and also by protocols of the 
medico-legal experts — that during the period of the temporary occupa- 
tion of the city of Kharkov and the Kharkov region, the German 
fascist invaders killed in gas lorries — “murder vans” — hanged, shot 
and tortured to death in Gestapo torture-chambers over 30,000 Soviet 
citizens. 

Thus, it has been established that the whole weight of responsibility 
for the massacres and crimes committed by the German fascist 
invaders during their temporary occupation of Kharkov and the 
Kharkov Region, for the torture and massacre of the peaceful popula- 
tion, for shooting and asphyxiation with carbon monoxide in specially 
equipped vehicles — “murder vans” — for burning and other forms of 
extermination of absolutely innocent Soviet people — including women 
and old people — is borne by the leaders of the predatory fascist govern- 
ment of Germany and by the Supreme Command of the German 
Army. 

It has also been established that the following commanders and 
chiefs of the German Military Command, police and punitive organiza- 
tions took an immediate part in the crimes which formed the subject 
of the investigation in this case and specific account of which has been 
given above : 

1. Obergruppenfuhrer Dietrich, Commander of “Adolf Hitler’’ 
S.S. Division. 

2. Gruppenfiihrer Simon, Commander of “Totenkopf” S.S. 
Division. 

3. Hanebitter, Chief of Kharkov Sonderkommando S.D . 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



59 



4. Police Commissar Karchan, chief of the group of German 
Secret Field Police in Kharkov. 

5. Police Commissar Mehritz, Chief of 560th Secret Field Police 
attached to the H.Q. of the 6th German Army. 

6. Police Secretary Wulf, Assistant Chief of group of German 
Secret Field Police of the city of Kharkov. 

The guilt of all above-mentioned persons in the criminal acts they 
have committed has been fully proved by the investigation, on the 
strength of which all of them are to bear criminal responsibility for 
the crimes committed by them against Soviet citizens on Soviet territory 
in accordance with the criminal laws of the U.S.S.R. Also guilty 
together with them of all these brutal crimes are the participants 
in these crimes arraigned as defendants in the present case; the 
officials of the military, police, intelligence and punitive organizations 
of the German Army — Reinhard RetzlafF, Hans Ritz, Wilhelm Langheld 
and also their accomplice, traitor to the motherland, Mikhail Bulanov. 

The specific criminal acts committed by the persons enumerated 
are as follows : 

Reinhard RetzlafF, an official of the German Secret Field Police 
in Kharkov, conducted the examination of a number of arrested Soviet 
citizens. He extorted evidence from them by means of inhuman 
cruelties and torture, falsified the evidence and brought false charges 
against them. 

He drew up a flagrantly invented report alleging that the arrested 
persons had confessed to anti -German activities. He deliberately 
implicated in his report 25 persons employed at the Kharkov Tractor 
Works and the Kharkov City Electric Power Station, as a result of 
which the persons in question were arrested and 15 of them were 
subsequently shot and 10 done to death in a “murder van.” On more 
than one occasion he had helped to load Soviet citizens into “murder 
vans,” thereby killing 40 more persons. He accompanied a “murder 
van” to the place where it had to be unloaded and took a direct part 
in burning the bodies of the asphyxiated. 

Hans Ritz, assistant commander of an S.S. Company of the 
Kharkov Sonderkommando S.D., took part in the torture and shooting 
of peaceful Soviet citizens. In June, 1943, he participated in the mass 
shooting of peaceful Soviet citizens in the vicinity of the village 
Podvarka near Kharkov. He took part in the examination of persons 
arrested by Sonderkommando S.D. and himself beat them up with 
ramrods and rubber truncheons in order to extort from them flagrantly 
false evidence of their alleged anti-German activities. 

Wilhelm Langheld, an officer of the Military Counter-Espionage, 
took part in the shooting and torture of war prisoners and peaceful 



60 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



population. He used torture and provocation in the examination 
of war prisoners, extorting flagrantly false evidence from them. He 
invented a number of false charges against Soviet citizens, as a result 
of which 100 persons were shot. 

Mikhail Petrovich Bulanov, a traitor to his motherland, went over 
to the Germans and entered their employ as a chauffeur in the Kharkov 
department of the Gestapo. He took part in the extermination of 
Soviet people by means of asphyxiation in “murder vans.” He drove 
peaceful Soviet citizens to the place where they were shot. He took 
part personally in the shooting of a group of 60 children. 

All the accused in the present case, namely : R. RetzlafF, H. Ritz, 
W. Langheld and M. P. Bulanov, have pleaded guilty to the charges 
brought against them and have given detailed evidence of their criminal 
activities. 

On the basis of the foregoing exposition they are charged : 

Reinhard Retzlaff, born 1907 in the town of Berlin, of secondary 
education, an official of the German Secret Field Police in the town of 
Kharkov, senior corporal in the Auxiliary Police. 

Hanz Ritz, born 1919 in the town of Marienwerder, Germany, a 
German of higher education, member of the National Socialist Party 
since 1937, assistant commander of an S.S. Company, Untersturmfuhrer 
S.S. 

Wilhelm Langheld, born 1891 in the town of Frankfurt-on- 
Main, a German, member of the National Socialist Party since 1933, 
officer in the Militaiy Counter-Espionage of the German Army of 
the rank of captain. 

With having : 

While on service in the German Army during 1941-1943 taken a 
direct part in mass and brutal extermination of peaceful Soviet people 
by the use of specially equipped automobiles known as “murder vans,” 
and also with having taken a personal part in mass shootings, hangings, 
burning, plunder and outrages on Soviet people — i.e. in crimes covered 
by the Order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. 
of 19th April, 1943. 

Mikhail Petrovich Bulanov, born 1917 at Dzhanibek Station, in 
the Kazakh S.S.R., a Russian, non-party, is charged with betrayal 
of the motherland, having voluntarily gone over to the Germans and 
accepted employment in the German punitive organization, and in 
conjunction with the Germans with having taken a direct part in the 
mass extermination of Soviet people by means of asphyxiation in 
“murder vans,” with having personally shot peaceful Soviet citizens, 
among whom were old people, women and children, i.e. in crimes 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



61 



covered by the Order .of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. of 
19th April, 1943. 

As a result of the foregoing exposition, the persons enumerated 
are committed for trial before the Court of the Military Tribunal. 

The indictment was read and translated into German, after which 
all the accused in reply to the President of the Court pleaded guilty 
to the charges. 

After the translation of the indictment into German, the Court 
proceeded to examine the accused. All the accused, Reinhard Retzlaff, 
Wilhelm Langheld, Hans Ritz and Bulanov, pleaded guilty to the 
offences with which they had been charged. 

The accused Wilhelm Langheld, Captain of the German Counter- 
Espionage, was the first to be questioned. He admitted that he 
took a direct part in the mass shooting of Soviet people. Not in vain 
was he considered an “exemplary” soldier, and he received three 
awards from his command. Answering the prosecutor’s questions, 
Langheld told how in the war prisoners’ camp the Hitlerites fabricated 
false accusations on the basis of which completely innocent people 
were to be shot. 

“My immediate superior,” stated Langheld, “a major, reproached 
me because there were not enough executions under my command. 
I apologized and said that I had not been long in the camp and had 
not yet had time to assert myself.” 

Prosecutor : Did you not try to prove to the major that the 
prisoners of war had not committed any crimes ? 

Langheld : Yes, I knew there had been no crimes, and no cases. 
But I understood the major’s remark as an order to create cases, to 
invent them if they did not exist. I ordered one of the most exhausted 
prisoners to be brought to me, assuming that from him it would be 
easier to obtain the necessary evidence. 

Prosecutor : You mean invented evidence ? 

Langheld: Yes, of course, invented, provoked evidence. When 
the prisoner was brought before me I asked whether he knew who was 
preparing to escape from the camp and at the same time promised to 
improve his food. The prisoner refused to mention any names what- 
soever, saying that he knew nothing of such rumours. But as I had 
to carry out the major’s orders, I ordered the prisoner to be thrown 
on the ground and beat him with sticks until he lost consciousness. 
Then I drew up a statement, kicked the prisoner till he sat up, and 
tried to force him to sign it. He again refused. 

Prosecutor : Who signed the statement after all ? 

Langheld : The interpreter. 



62 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Prosecutor : Consequently, this statement was invented ? 

Langheld : Yes. 

Prosecutor : What did it say ? 

Langheld : We wrote that 20 prisoners of war were alleged to be 
preparing to escape. We chose the names at random from the camp 
list. On the following day the statement was handed to the major, 
and he ordered all of them to be shot. This order was carried out. 

Prosecutor : Thus completely innocent people were shot ? 

Langheld: Yes. 

It was apparent from the further evidence of the accused that this 
practice of Langheld and other German officers was systematic. 
The accused gave evidence of a second similar case. On that occasion 
his victims were six completely innocent Ukrainian women. They 
were peasant women from surrounding villages, who came to the camp 
to look for relatives. Wanting to distinguish himself in the eyes of 
his superiors, Langheld decided to extort evidence from these women 
by alleging that they had attempted to establish communications 
between guerrillas and war prisoners in the camp. For this purpose 
the six women were arrested, including one with a five-year-old child. 
Attempts were made to extort evidence from them by similar methods. 
They were undressed, flung on to a bench and beaten with sticks and 
rods. But no tortures could force these Soviet women to give false 
evidence. They fell unconscious, but did not say a word. 

Prosecutor : How did the mother of the child behave and what did 
the child do ? 

Langheld : The child at first clung to its mother crying, and then 
crept away to a corner and crouched there in terror. 

On the following day Langheld made a statement to the Local 
H.Q. alleging that they had discovered five cases of communication 
between guerrillas and prisoners of war. The local H.Q. took away 
five women and, as it was learned later, shot them. 

Prosecutor : But there were six women. What became of the 
sixth woman ? 

Langheld stated dispassionately that the sixth woman died the same 
night from the beating and that it was therefore useless for him to 
include her in the fist. This sixth woman was the mother of the five- 
year-old child. 

When the Prosecutor asked what became of the child, Langheld 
answered: “He clung to his dead mother, crying aloud. The lance- 
corporal who came to take away the woman’s body got tired of this 
so he shot the child.” 

A murmur of indignation passed through the hall: “These vile 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



63 



child-murderers! They will answer for their monstrous crimes.” 
The examination was continued. 

The Prosecutor then asked whether such cases were isolated 
instances or whether they were part of the system in the German Army. 

‘‘Such things happened everywhere. It was a system,” answered 
Langheld. 

He further testified that this system was approved and encouraged 
by orders and instructions of the German Government and the Com- 
mand of the German Army. 

Prosecutor : This means that it may be considered a fact that 
orders for the mass extermination of completely innocent Soviet 
people came from the German Government ? 

Langheld answered clearly and briefly : “Yes,” and gave an instance 
when on his orders ten completely innocent Red Army officers were 
shot in the camp so as to “forestall” an escape. “This initiative 
on my part,” he declared, “was fully approved of by the command.” 
Langheld admitted that he not only knew of the existence of the 
so-called “gas lorry,” a specially equipped van for the asphyxiation 
of Soviet people with carbon monoxide, but himself saw this van and 
saw how Soviet citizens were loaded on it. 

Langheld’ s further evidence presented a terrible picture of the 
terror and provocation existing in the German prisoner-of-war camps. 
In these camps civilians were also kept together with the prisoners 
of war, the Germans regarding them also as prisoners of war. 
Prisoners of war and civilians held as prisoners of war were starved to 
death, had dogs set on them, were exterminated under every pretext 
and without any pretext. Langheld instanced the following fact: 
in one of the camps the prisoners lived in the open. In order to warm 
themselves they fit fires at night. The camp authorities gave permission 
for this, and then soldiers opened fire on the defenceless people who 
were gathered round the fires. This was previously planned, cruel 
provocation. 

“Tell me, Langheld,” asked the Prosecutor, “how many Soviet 
citizens have you personally exterminated ?” 

The fascist hangman raised his eyes to the ceiling, meditated for 
a moment and answered : “I cannot give the exact figure, but I imagine 
there were at least 100.” 

Prosecutor : And do you know how many Soviet people had been 
killed altogether by the Germans during the occupation of Kharkov 
and the Kharkov region ? 

Langheld : I have heard that over 30,000 people had been exter- 
minated. As many, if not more, had been exterminated in Kiev 
and about 15,000 in Poltava. 



64 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



This is how Langheld and others like him were carrying out the 
instructions of the German Government on the mass extermination of 
Soviet people. 

The President of the Court, Justiciary Major-General Miasnikov, 
gave more precise information on the activities of hangman Langheld 
on Soviet territory. He was at Poltava, Kiev, Berdichev, and Rossosh. 

President : And did you everywhere take such an active part in 
the extermination of Soviet people ? 

Langheld : Yes, everywhere. 

President : Do you know of instances when the German Command 
called its officers to task for atrocities against peaceful inhabitants ?” 

To Langheld this question seemed incomprehensible: “Such 

practices were not only not punished but were encouraged in every 
way by the German Command. 

When the President asked how he had earned his three decorations 
and whether it was because he was so zealous in exterminating Soviet 
citizens, Langheld answered: “Yes. I tried to fulfil the orders of 
my superiors.” 

President : The accused is at the disposal of the member of the 
Court, Comrade Kharchev. 

Kharchev : For what reasons and when did you join the National 
Socialist Party ? 

Langheld : I joined the National Socialist Party in 1933 mainly 
because I approved of its programme. 

President : Have the experts any questions to the accused Lang- 
held ? 

There were no questions. 

President : Have counsel for the defence any questions to the 
accused ? 

Counsel for the Defence Kommodov : What was the occupation 
of the accused Langheld before the war ? 

Langheld: Before the war I was an official of the Town Council 
of Frankfurt-on-Main. 

Kommodov : How long have you been on the Eastern front ? 

Langheld : Since the beginning of the war. 

Kommodov : Did you share the views of the National Socialist 
Party before you joined the party ? 

Langheld : No, before then I was not a party member. 

Kommodov : Did you take part in the war of 1914-1918? 

Langheld : Yes, I took part in the war of 1914-18. 

Kommodov : How do you explain your personal participation in 
the crimes to which you plead guilty ? 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



65 



Langheld : I fulfilled the orders of my superiors. Had I not done 
so I would have been court-martialled. 

President : Has the Defence any other question to put to the 
accused ? 

The Defence : No. 

Summing up all the facts which had been elicited during the examina- 
tion of Langheld, the President of the Court asked him whether he 
considered the German Government and the Command of the German 
Army fully responsible for all these crimes, and for the mass extermina- 
tion of Soviet citizens. Langheld answered, “Yes, I do.” 

The Court was then adjourned till 16th December at 10 a.m. 

The session was resumed at 10 a.m. on 16th December, 1943. 

The President, Justiciary Major-General Miasnikov, announced 
that the Court’s examination of Langheld would be continued. 

President : Accused Langheld, where did you see a ‘gas van’ ? 

The accused Langheld replied through the interpreter Kopilov; 
I saw the ‘gas van’ in Kharkov. 

President : When ? 

Langheld : Sometime in May, 1942, when I was on a service visit 
to Kharkov. 

President : Describe what the ‘gas van’ is like. 

Langheld : As far as I remember the ‘gas van’ is a vehicle dark 
grey in colour, completely covered in, having hermetically sealed 
doors at the back. 

President : How many persons can a van hold ? 

Langheld : Approximately 60 to 70 persons. 

President : Under what circumstances did you see the van in 
Kharkov ? 

Langheld : I was at 76, Chemiskevsky Street at the H.Q. of the 
S.D. and heard a terrific noise and screaming outside. 

President : What happened then ? 

Langheld : A gas van at that moment had driven up to the main 
entrance of the building, and one could see how people were being 
forcibly driven into it, while German soldiers were standing at the 
doors of the van. 

President : Were you present when the people were driven into the 
gas van ? 

Langheld : Yes. I was a few paces away from the gas van and saw 
it being done. 

President : Tell the Court how the people were loaded into the 
gas van. 

Langheld : Among the people being loaded into the gas van were 
old men, children, old and young women. These people would not 



66 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



go into the machine of their own accord and had therefore to be driven 
into the gas van by S.S. men with kicks and blows of the butt ends of 
automatic rifles. 

President : Why didn’t the people go into the machine of their 
own accord ? Did they know what kind of a machine it was ? 

Langheld : I presume that these people guessed the sort of fate 
that awaited them. 

President : Who conducted the loading of the machine when you 
were there ? 

Langheld : It is difficult for me to mention any particular name, 
as the men there were all unknown to me, but at any rate, they were 
all S.S. men. Near the gas van I met an acquaintance of mine, a 
captain in the German Army. 

President : What was his name ? 

Langheld : It was Captain Beukow. 

President: In what towns of occupied Soviet territory was the 
gas van used for the extermination of Soviet citizens ? 

Langheld : I heard from Captain Beukow that the same kind of 
gas vans were used in the majority of towns in occupied Soviet territory, 
such as Kharkov, Poltava, Kiev. 

President : Did you know that the gas van had also been used 
in Smolensk, as you testified at the preliminary examination ? 

Langheld : Yes, I had heard that the gas van was also being used 
in Smolensk. 

President : By whose order ? 

Langheld : As the gas van was used by S.S. men it must be pre- 
sumed that it was done by order of the Government. 

President : Tell the Court the names and functions of the assistants 
with whom you worked. 

Langheld: My assistants were Sergeant-Major Runge, the inter- 
preter Schulz, Senior Corporals Ettman and Maine. 

President : Did they also take an active part in the shooting and 
beating up of Russian prisoners of war and civilians ? 

Langheld : Yes, they all took the same part. 

President : Explain the offences of each of them in particular. 

Langheld: Sergeant-Major Runge mainly fulfilled instructions in 
the arrangement and carrying out of shootings. The other three 
took part in beating up people during interrogation and the like. 

President : Tell us why, when German officers and soldiers came 
to the camp, as you testified at the preliminary examination, they 
tore off the caps of war prisoners and threw them into a forbidden 
zone ? 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



67 



Langhei i : The soldiers practised this as a sport in order thereby 
to show their contempt of the Russians. 

President : And what happened afterwards ? 

Langheld : When the prisoners tried to pick up their caps, the 
guard fired at them. Naturally there were occasions when they were 
killed. 

President: Were there other occasions when prisoners were 
fired at? 

Langheld : Yes. There were other occasions and I myself witnessed 
similar incidents in the camp at Poltava. 

President : Who did the shooting, soldiers or officers ? 

Langheld : A man particularly to distinguish himself in this was 
a sergeant whose name I cannot for the moment remember. 

President : So it means 'hat war prisoners were chosen as 
shooting targets? * 

Langheld : Yes, it may be said that at the given moment they were 
regarded as game to be shot at. 

President : Did German officers and soldiers take the prisoners’ 
clothes from them ? 

Langheld : Yes. All the good things they had were taken from 
them. 

President : That is to say, they were robbed. 

Langheld : Yes, that is so. 

President : And did you take a part in this robbery ? 

Langheld : Yes, I did. 

President : What was done with the things stolen from the war 
prisoners ? 

Langheld: As a rule, they were distributed among the men of 
the company. 

President : Did the German Army also take things from civilians ? 

Langheld: In regard to the civilian population, I am unable to 
give any details. 

President: And how did the camps dispose of the corpses of 
prisoners of war? 

Langheld: Ditches had been dug beyond the confines of the 
camp and the bodies of the prisoners killed were thrown into them. 

President : Approximately how many prisoners of war perished 
in the camps ? 

Langheld: The highest figure is approximately 60 dead prisoners 
per day. 

President : Apparently they were not camps for prisoners of war, 
but camps of death. 

Langheld : Yes, that is so. 



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THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



President : Does the military prosecutor wish to put any 

supplementary questions? 

Military Prosecutor : No. 

President : Does the defence wish to ask any questions ? 

Defence : No. 

President : You may sit down, accused Langheld. 

After the examination of Langheld, the Court proceeded to examine 
the accused Ritz, who was first questioned by the Prosecutor. 

Prosecutor : Accused Ritz, tell us what rank you held in the 
German Army. 

The accused Ritz answered through the interpreter, Stesnov, that 
he held the rank of S.S. Untersturmbannfuhrer , which corresponds to 
the rank of Lieutenant. 

Prosecutor : You served in the S.S. troops ? 

Ritz : Yes, I served in the S.S. troops. 

Prosecutor : What functions were fulfilled by the S.S. troops ? 

Ritz : The S.S. troops are used like ordinary army units, but 
certain demands are made on members of the S.S. — Aryan origin, 
a particular height, devotion to National Socialism, etc. 

Prosecutor : What were the functions of the detachment under 
your command ? 

Ritz : I commanded an S.S. Company which was a punitive 
company and was attached to the S.S. Sonderkommando in Taganrog. 

Prosecutor : What was the actual work of this Company ? 

Ritz : The S.S. Company acted on orders of the Taganrog S.S. 
Sonderkommando and carried out punitive actions, for example, 
shooting, forcible evacuation of villages, the transportation and 
guarding of arrested persons. 

Answering further questions put by the Prosecutor, Ritz gave 
more precise information on the activities of the S.S. Company of 
which he was assistant commander. It appeared that they consisted 
mainly in exterminating the peaceful population by means of 
inventing all sorts of false charges. Ritz admitted that on his 
personal orders alone about 300 people were killed in this manner in 
the Taganrog district. 

Prosecutor : Do you know anything about other districts ? 

Ritz : I know facts about the extermination of peaceful citizens 
in Kharkov. I heard about this when I passed through Kharkov 
and later when I was attached to the Sonderkommando of the town 
of Kharkov. 

Prosecutor : Tell us in detail about this. 

Ritz : On 31st May, 1943, I arrived in Kharkov and reported to 
the Chief of the Kharkov Sonderkommando , Hanebitter, whom I used 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



69 



to know in Germany, There I also met the officers of the Bonder- 
kommando ; Assistant-Chief of the Sonderkommando Irchner, officers 
Fast, Peters, Dr. Kappe and Lt. Jacobi. I can tell of certain incidents 
which I happened to see in Kharkov. Most of all I came in contact 
with Lt. Jacobi, who told me they had much work to do in connection 
with arrested persons detained in the Kharkov prison, but that, 
thank God, they had a special method of clearing the prisons of 
arrested persons. When I asked him what this special method was, 
Jakobi told me that this was the ‘gas van.’ Hearing the expression 
‘gas van’ I remembered that I had heard about this vehicle in 
Germany. I remembered the vehicle from my stay in Warsaw, when 
I witnessed the evacuation in it of the unreliable sections of the Warsaw 
population. From conversations with the secretary of the National 
Socialist organization in Warsaw — Richter — I got to know that part 
of the Warsaw population were evacuated by railway and another 
part were loaded into the ‘gas vans’ and exterminated. When I 
asked him what sort of a machine this was, Richter told me that it 
was just an ordinary goods van, but that the exhaust gases were 
directed into the body of the machine, thereby exterminating the 
persons inside. 

I was given a similar description of the gas van in September, 1942, 
in Riga by the engineer-constructor Deppe. Moreover, in May, 1942, 
I was told by an official of the Russian Town Council, Meier, that the 
gas van was used for exterminating civilians in the town of Vitebsk. 
I remembered all these conversations when Lt. Jacobi told me about 
the use of the gas van in Kharkov. I asked Lt. Jacobi to let me 
have a look at the vehicle. Lt. Jacobi agreed, saying that there 
would be a good opportunity to do so, as at six o’clock the next morning 
the machine would be loaded and that if I came to the prison yard 
I would see it. The next day I appeared at the appointed time in the 
prison yard and found Lt. Jacobi, with whom I exchanged greetings, 
and who afterwards showed me the vehicle standing in the yard. 
It was an ordinary closed army transport lorry, only with an air-tight 
body. Lt. Jacobi opened the doors of the machine and let me look 
in. Inside the machine was lined with sheet iron, in the floor was 
a grating through which entered the exhaust gases of the motor 
which poisoned the people inside the van. Soon afterwards the doors 
of the prison opened and arrested persons were led out in groups. 
Among them were women of varying ages and old men; they were 
accompanied by S.S. men. The sight of those people made a very 
painful impression on me : they were emaciated, their hair was matted 
and there were traces of blood on their faces from blows. Those of 
the prisoners who held back were beaten and kicked. They had been 



10 



THE PEOPLE^ VERDICT 



ordered to go to the van and get into it. I should add that they 
numbered about 60 persons. When the loading began, some of the 
prisoners went into the van, others wouldn’t go in and resisted, but 
they were forced in by kicks and blows from the butt ends of rifles 
on the part of S.S. men. When I saw this I asked Lt. Jacobi how it 
was that the people knew what awaited them in the gas van. Lt. 
Jacobi replied that the people had not been told what would happen 
to them, but as the gas van had been so extensively used in Kharkov 
many people appeared to have learnt what the van portended. 

Prosecutor: How many times did you witness similar loadings 
into gas vans ? 

Ritz : I saw it only on the occasion I have told you about. 

Prosecutor : Were you ever present at the mass shooting of Soviet 
citizens ? 

Ritz : Yes, I was. 

Prosecutor : Tell us all about it in detail. 

Ritz : Hanebitter told me that some 3,000 persons were to be 
shot for having welcomed the Soviet authorities when the Soviet 
troops occupied the town of Kharkov. Hanebitter told me that I 
might be present at this shooting. 

Prosecutor : Did you ask to be allowed to witness this shooting ? 

Ritz : Yes, I did ask and Major Hanebitter gave me permission 
to watch the operation. 

Prosecutor : Tell us in detail about it. 

Ritz : On 2nd June, Major Hanebitter took me and several officers 
and drove out to a village near the town of Kharkov, called Nadvorki 
or Prodvorki, where the shooting was to take place. On the way we 
overtook three lorries loaded with prisoners accompanied by S.S. 
men who were going to the same place. The car in which I rode 
passed a lorry with prisoners and arrived at a forest clearing, where 
pits had been dug. This clearing was surrounded by S.S. men. Soon 
afterwards the lorries arrived with the prisoners. Hanebitter said 
that about 300 would be shot that day. The prisoners were divided 
into small groups and were shot in turn by S.S. men with automatic 
rifles. I do not wish to conceal my own participation in this operation. 
Major Hanebitter said to me: “Show us what you are made of.” 
So as a military man and an officer I did not refuse. I took the 
automatic rifle from one of the S.S. men and fired at the prisoners. 

Prosecutor : Were there women and children among the people 
shot ? 

Ritz : Yes. I remember a woman with a child. The woman, 
trying to save the child, covered it with her body. But this did not 
help her because the bullet went through her and the child. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



71 



Prosecutor: How many people were shot on that occasion in 
your presence ? 

Ritz : Major Hanebitter told me about 300 people were to be shot 
on that day. 

Prosecutor : In the pits in which the shot people were buried, 
did you see any who had been asphyxiated in the gas vans ? 

Ritz: Yes. When we officers afterwards examined the place 
where the shooting had been carried out, Lt. Jacobi showed a pit 
covered with a thin layer of earth through which showed the outlines 
of human bodies. Jacobi said these were the passengers of yesterday’s 
ride in the gas van. 

Prosecutor : Was it your duty to question arrested peaceful Soviet 
citizens ? 

Ritz: Yes, I took part in interrogations of Soviet citizens in 
Taganrog. 

Prosecutor : Tell us how you questioned Soviet citizens. 

Ritz : At first I questioned the prisoners according to my knowledge 
of jurisprudence. However, soon the Chief of the Sonderkommando 
of the town of Taganrog, Ecker, came to me and declared that I could 
not continue in this way, that these people were thick-skinned and 
other methods ought to be applied. Then I started beating them up 
at the interrogations. 

Prosecutor : Was beating part of the system of interrogation of 
Soviet citizens? 

Ritz : Yes, it can be stated with certainty that this was the system. 
In Kharkov, as I stated before, I had the opportunity of being present 
at interrogations and I came to the conclusion that everyone from 
the commander to the lowest ranks of the Sonderkommando beat 
up people and beat them hard. So that I repeat : it is undoubtedly 
the system. 

Prosecutor : You, Ritz, are a person of higher legal education and 
apparently consider yourself a man of culture. How could you not 
only watch people being beaten, but even take an active part in it, 
and shoot perfectly innocent people, not only under compulsion but 
of your own free will ? 

Ritz : I had to obey orders, otherwise I would have been court- 
martialled and certainly sentenced to death. 

Prosecutor : This is not quite so, because you yourself expressed 
a desire to be present when people were loaded on to the gas vans 
and nobody specially invited you to be there. 

Ritz : Yes, that is true. I myself expressed a desire to be present, 
but I beg you to take into consideration that I was then still a newcomer 
on the Eastern Front and wanted to convince myself as to whether 



72 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



it was true that these lorries of which I had heard were used on the 
Eastern Front. Therefore, I expressed my desire to be present when 
people were loaded on them. 

Prosecutor : But you took a direct part in the shooting of innocent 
Soviet citizens ? 

Ritz : As I have testified earlier, during the shooting at Podvorki, 
Major Hanebitter said to me : “Show us what you are made of,” and, 
not wanting to get into trouble, I took an automatic rifle from one of 
the S.S. men and started firing. 

Prosecutor : Consequently, of your own free will you entered upon 
this vile course of shooting completely innocent people, as nobody 
had forced you to do it. 

Ritz : Yes, I must admit that. 

Prosecutor : Now, Ritz, you are a man with some knowledge of 
law. Tell us, were the standards of international law observed to 
any extent by the German Army on the Eastern Front ? 

Ritz : I must say that on the Eastern Front there was no question 
of international or any other law. 

Prosecutor : Tell us, Ritz, on whose orders did all this take place ? 
Why was this system of complete lawlessness and monstrous slaughter 
of perfectly innocent people instituted ? 

Ritz : This lawlessness had its deep-seated reasons. It was 
instituted on the instructions of Hitler and his collaborators, instruc- 
tions which are capable of detailed analysis. 

Prosecutor : Tell us in detail and concretely : Who is actually to 
blame for all this ? 

Ritz : I consider the primary and chief culprit to be Hitler, who 
calls first of all for the introduction of a system of cruelty and, 
secondly, speaks of the superiority of the Germano-Aryan race whose 
mission it is to establish order in Europe. He also speaks of the 
necessity of exterminating the inferior Russian people. Further, I 
would like to point out that Himmler stated repeatedly that there is 
no need to pay any attention to the paragraphs which entail the death 
sentence, but that the death sentence must be imposed according to 
one’s Aryan instinct. This Germano-Aryan instinct had to be covered 
up to a certain extent in Germany, but on the Eastern Front the 
German troops acted openly. Further, I want to speak about 
Rosenberg, the propagandist of the superiority of the German race. 
This propaganda, carried on by Rosenberg also in relation to the 
Russians as barbarians, caused the German soldiers to behave as 
they do. Thus, when speaking about the actual and fundamental 
reasons for these crimes, I considered it necessary to single out these 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



73 



three persons with whom the crimes perpetrated by the German 
troops are without doubt connected. 

President : Accuzed Ritz, tell us briefly about your life. 

Ritz : I was born in 1919 in Marienwerder in Germany. My 
father was a professor. I went to a State school for three years and 
then for nine years to a high school studying the humanities. I com- 
pleted the course and then did my labour service for seven months. 
Then I went to Konigsberg University where I studied law and also 
music. In 1939 I was called up in the German Army, but then 
released for a year to sit for my State examinations in 1940. Until 
October, 1940, I was in the army. Then I was demobilized because 
of gastric trouble and spent the first period doing juridical work at 
the Oberpraesidium of East Prussia in Konigsberg. From April, 
1941, till May, 1943, I worked as a lawyer in Poznan. At the end 
of May, 1943, during the so-called “total mobilization,” I was called 
to the German Army again and sent to the Eastern Front. 

President : What public posts did you hold as a member of the 
Hitler Youth ? 

Ritz : As a member of the Hitler Youth since 1933 I first held 
minor leading positions, but when in Poznan I was President of the 
Court of Honour of the Hitler Youth. 

President : Accused Ritz, how long were you in Taganrog ? 

Ritz : I was in Taganrog from 5th June to 1st September, 1943. 

President : You and your company carried out punitive measures 
not only in Taganrog itself, but also in the neighbourhood ? 

Ritz : As I testified before, our company carried out shooting in 
the area of the sandpits north-east of the town of Taganrog and engaged 
in other punitive expeditions as well. 

President: Did you personally take part in shooting people in 
the sandpits ? 

Ritz : Yes, I did. 

President : How many people were shot in the sandpit ? 

Ritz : Up to 60 persons. 

President : And were those all ? 

Ritz : On two occasions 120 persons were shot. The total 
number shot was 2,000 to 3,000. 

President : In Taganrog ? 

Ritz : In Taganrog and its neighbourhood. 

President : Tell us the names and functions of the Gestapo men 
who took an active part in shooting people in Taganrog and its 
neighbourhood. 

Ritz : The chief, the one fully responsible for the shootings, was 
leader of the Sonderkommando , Hauptsturmfuhrer Ecker. Sergeant- 



74 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



major Schulz took a direct part in the shootings. I also remember 
Captain Wassberger, Lt. Heintel and Privates Mainhor and Retschke. 

President : Did you personally take part in the shootings in the 
pits in the vicinity of Taganrog ? 

Ritz : As in many other cases, I was ordered by the Chief of the 
Sonderkommando , Hauptsturmfiihrer Ecker, to detail a firing squad. 
After giving my orders, I went to the site to check up whether my 
instructions had been accurately carried out. 

President : What did you see on the spot ? 

Ritz : When I got to the spot I saw a pit of approximately 50 X 50 
metres and 4 metres deep. Inside it were a group of persons who 
were to be shot, approximately 50 in number. Sergeant-major 
Turkel was the leader of the squad. Sergeant-major Turkel reported 
that everything was ready for the shooting. The prisoners were 
poorly clad and had been beaten up. I said “Begin” and fire was 
opened. As soon as the firing began a mass of bloodstained bodies 
piled up in the pit, but among them were some not yet dead. I then 
ordered two privates to go down into the pit and finish off those who 
were still alive. Soon after two S.S. men and I got into the pit. Two 
persons who were wounded but still alive I finished off with my pistol. 
When the operation was completed I ordered two privates to stay 
on the spot as guards, and the others to return to Taganrog, where 
I also went to report to Ecker that the order had been fulfilled. 

President : Were there women and children ? 

Ritz : I did not notice any children, but I can say with certainty 
that there were women. 

President : In which towns were gas vans used ? 

Ritz : To my knowledge, gas vans were used in Kharkov and I 
have also testified to this in detail. I know from conversations with 
Ecker and officers of the Sonderkommando S.D. that they had been 
informed by Rabbe, former Assistant Chief of Sonderkommando SD. 
in Krasnodar, that gas vans were used there. 

President : Who was exterminated in the gas vans in Krasnodar ? 

Ritz : I know that in Krasnodar the civilian population was 
exterminated and that gas vans were also used to destroy the patients 
in hospital. 

President : That means that they exterminated women and 

children and sick people? 

Ritz : That is correct. 

President : How many people were exterminated in Krasnodar ? 

Ritz : Several thousand. 

President : You stated that gas vans were used in Warsaw and Riga. 
Who directed their use there ? 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



75 



Ritz : In those cities it was also done under Gestapo direction. 

President : And who specifically directed it ? 

Ritz : I do not know. 

President : Who told you that gas vans were used in Warsaw ? 

Ritz : I was told about it, as I have already testified, by a certain 
Richter, a former leading functionary of the district leadership of the 
National Socialist Party. 

President : And how did you hear about the use of the vans in 
Riga ? 

Ritz: I got to know this from a construction engineer named 
Deppe, and from a certain Major, a former official of the Riga town 
administration. 

President: Have counsel for the defence any questions to the 
accused ? 

Kommodov : Tell the Court whether you still remain loyal to the 
ideas of the National Socialist Party. 

Ritz : I cannot say that I remain faithful to the ideas of National 
Socialism, because since I have been on the Eastern Front I have been 
able to convince myself step by step that the ideas of the National 
Socialist Party are false. 

Kommodov: Do you realize that the German Government and 
the National Socialist Party deceive the German people ? 

Ritz : The word “deception” is the most suitable to describe this. 

Kommodov : Did your father, the professor, share the ideas of 
the National Socialist Party ? 

Ritz : My father, who before Hitler came to power was a member 
of the Liberal Party, joined the National Socialist Party because he 
wished to retain his post. However, I cannot say that he completely 
shared the ideas of the National Socialist Party. 

This concluded the interrogation of the accused Ritz. 

The Court then proceeded to examine the accused Retzlaff. 

Prosecutor : Defendant Retzlaff, tell the Court who your parents 
are and what education you received. 

Retzlaff: My father was an employee of a health insurance bureau. 
I graduated from a secondary school. 

Prosecutor : What was your occupation before the war ? 

Retzlaff: I was assistant manager of a department in the office 
of a Frankfurt newspaper. 

Prosecutor : How long have you served in the German Army ? 

Retzlaff: Since May, 1940. 

Prosecutor : In what capacity did you serve in the German Army ? 

Retzlaff: Early in May, 1940, I was trained as radio operator of 
an artillery unit. Then after the campaign in France I was transferred 



76 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



to a security battalion which was stationed at first in France and then 
in Pomerania. 

Prosecutor : What was this security battalion ? 

Retzlaff : This battalion was charged with the guarding of war 
prisoners and at that time we were guarding French and Belgians. 

Prosecutor : How did you come to serve in that battalion ? 

Retzlaff: I was assigned to that battalion because I reached the 
age which, after the French campaign, was no longer called up for 
active service. 

Prosecutor : Was this battalion subordinate to the German Secret 
Field Police ? 

Retzlaff: No. It was a reservist battalion, rather. In May, 1940, 
I was transferred from this battalion to the “Altenburg” Special 
Battalion. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court in detail what was this “Altenburg” 
Battalion. 

Retzlaff: The “Altenburg” Battalion is a school for training 
officials for the German Secret Field Police. 

Prosecutor : How did you come to join this battalion ? 

Retzlaff: I was sent there by the Command. 

Prosecutor : What was the strength of this battalion ? 

Retzlaff: Its strength fluctuated, but at the time I was undergoing 
training there it numbered about two hundred men. 

Prosecutor : Whom did they train in this battalion ? 

Retzlaff: This battalion trained officials for the German Secret 
Field Police. This was the only school in Germany for training 
them. Its course comprised military training and special instruction 
in the service of the Secret Field Police. 

Prosecutor : What subjects were studied in the “Altenburg” 
Battalion ? 

Retzlaff : In this battalion chiefly the following subjects were 
taught: criminal law, methods of examination, arrests, searches, 
espionage activities among the civilian population. In addition, 
special lectures were given us. 

Prosecutor : Specifically, what kind of lectures ? 

Retzlaff: Leading Gestapo officials gave us special reports 

explaining the mission of the German people as a representative of 
a superior race and its tasks in the establishment of the “New Order” 
in Europe and measures related to it. 

Prosecutor : What are these measures ? 

Retzlaff: We were told that the Soviet people as one of the 
inferior races must be exterminated. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



77 



Prosecutor : Thus, in the battalion you were taught methods of 
extermination of the Soviet people ? 

Retzlaff : Yes. 

Prosecutor : Was this policy ordered by the German Government ? 

Retzlaff: Yes. In the course of a number of years the German 
Government impressed this policy upon German minds through 
Press, cinema and radio. 

Prosecutor : Thus you were trained in this battalion not as officials 
but as hangmen ? 

Retzlaff : Yes, one may say so, as I later saw in practice. 

Prosecutor : And in your practical activities you pursued the 
hangman’s policy you had been taught in the “Altenburg” Battalion ? 

Retzlaff: Yes. Like the other officials of the Secret Field Police, 
I carried out these instructions. 

Prosecutor : That means that you took a direct part in the 
extermination of the Soviet people ? 

Reztlaff : I must admit that upon the orders of my immediate 
superiors Impersonally took part in the extermination of Soviet citizens. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court how you exterminated Soviet citizens. 

Retzlaff: In June, 1941, in Zhitomir where the 560th Group of 
the Secret Field Police was stationed, I saw for myself that the methods 
which we had been taught were being applied. 

Prosecutor : Put it more concretely. 

Retzlaff: Every person detained by the military authorities and 
sent to the Secret Field Police for examination, was first of all beaten 
up. If a prisoner gave the evidence we needed, the beatings were 
discontinued, while those who refused to give evidence were further 
beaten, and this frequently resulted in their death. 

Prosecutor : This means that if a person did not confess, he was 
murdered. And if he did — he was shot. Is that correct ? 

Retzlaff: Yes, that was so on most occasions. 

Prosecutor : Was there any occasion when cases were trumped 
up and evidence was faked ? 

Retzlaff: Yes, all this happened and rather frequently. One may 
say that this was quite a normal procedure. 

Prosecutor : In addition to shootings and hangings, what other 
methods -of extermination of Soviet citizens were employed by the 
Secret Field Police ? 

Retzlaff: In addition to this, as far as I know, they used the 
gas van. 

Prosecutor : What is the gas van like ? 

Retzlaff: In March, 1942, when I entered the courtyard of Kharkov 
Jail, I saw there a large van painted dark grey. 



78 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Prosecutor : Did you see this van once or several times ? 

Retzlajf : After that I used to see this van often. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court all you know about the use of the 
gas van. 

Retzlajf: In March, 1942, 1 saw a van parked in the courtyard of 
Kharkov Jail. I asked an acquaintance of mine in the Kharkov 
Squad, named Kaminsky, what was the purpose of this van, as I knew 
that previously prisoners were taken to execution in open vans. 
Kaminsky replied that the van was a new method of exterminating the 
Russians which greatly reduced time. Kaminsky further explained 
that the exhaust gases penetrating from the engine into the body of 
the van within a certain time poisoned the people inside. In the middle 
of May and at the end of that month I myself received orders from 
Police Commissar Karchan to turn over to the S.D. Security Service 
twenty people arrested on a charge of anti-German activities. I was 
accompanied by Sergeant-major Folmann and N.C.O.s Tetzmann 
and Gerlitz. When I arrived in the court-room of the prison, I saw 
there S.D. Sturmfiihrer Frese. I reported to him the purpose of my 
visit and he answered that on that day the jail was to be cleared and 
proposed that I take part in this work. Soon after, Sturmbannfuhrer 
Hanebitter entered the prison office and ordered all employees to go 
into the courtyard. When we came out into the courtyard, the gas 
van drove up to the prison entrance. Hanebitter ordered us to fetch 
the prisoners from their cells. I had a list with the names of twenty 
prisoners and called them out from various cells. Then they were 
ordered to line up in the corridor. After that they were told that 
some would be transferred to another prison and others transferred 
to a camp. Then the prisoners were led out to the courtyard where 
the gas van was already waiting for them. There the S.D. men were 
putting prisoners on board and we also loaded our batch. Although 
the destination of the gas van was strictly secret, nevertheless certain 
people had evidently been informed of it. Some of the prisoners 
resisted when being put into the gas van and they were driven into it 
by blows with clubs and rifle and pistol butts. There were old folk, 
women and even children among the prisoners. On that day a wild 
scene took place. Women sobbed, some of them fell to their knees, 
imploring that their lives be spared. I recall how, when ono woman’s 
child was snatched out of her arms, she shook with sobs, jumped at 
the S.D. officer who stood near by, and scratched his face. The latter 
immediately pulled out his pistol and shot her. S.D. soldiers threw 
her body into the van. 

Prosecutor : How many Soviet citizens in all were exterminated 
by means of the gas van ? 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



79 



Retzlaff : As S.D. man Kaminsky told me, more than 5,000 
people were destroyed in March. Taking into consideration this 
figure as well as the fact that the gas van made its deadly rounds 
every day, it can be considered that the total number of persons put 
to death in Kharkov is approximately 30,000. 

Prosecutor : How many Soviet citizens were exterminated by 
means of the gas van and with your direct participation ? 

Retzlaff: I personally took part twice in loading people into the 
gas van, in March and July, 1942. I put there about twenty persons 
each time. 

Prosecutor : How were the people murdered in the gas van buried ? 

Retzlaff: The bodies of the murdered people were buried in a 
gully to the south of Kharkov or burned. 

Prosecutor : Why were they burned ? 

Retzlaff: At the end of March, 9942, 1 was ordered to accompany 
the gas van and drove to the area of the barracks of the Kharkov 
Tractor Plant. When we arrived there Hanebitter ordered all trucks, 
with the exception of the gas van and the car with the S.D. men, to 
be driven on one side. The gas van drew up in front of a grey-painted 
barrack. The S.D. men jumped out of their car and began to unload 
the bodies of the murdered people from the gas van and carried them 
into this barrack. When I entered, I saw that the rooms on the 
right and left of the corridor were already packed with bodies which 
had apparently been brought there earlier. 

Prosecutor : Approximately how many bodies were there in the 
barrack together with those you had brought ? 

Retzlaff: There were approximately 300 to 350. 

Prosecutor : Continue your testimony. 

Retzlaff: When the bodies had been stacked in the corridor, the 
S.D. men entered the barrack and poured petrol over them. They 
also poured petrol over the outside wall of the barrack. Then the 
S.D. men flung blazing torches inside and set fire to it. I saw six 
other barracks burnt down in the same manner. 

Retzlaff then stated that he had seen these burnt barracks and 
knew that bodies of people finished off in the gas van were burnt there 
also. 

Prosecutor : What was the purpose of burning the bodies of people 
finished off in the gas van ? 

Retzlaff : So that the use of the gas van should be kept secret, 
and therefore the traces of its work — dead bodies — were to be burnt. 

Prosecutor : I have no more questions to ask the defendant. 

President : Accused Retzlaff, in what occupied Soviet towns did 
you work ? 



80 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Retzlaff : In June, 1942, 1 was in Zhitomir, where I worked in the 
560th Group of the Secret Field Police. The 560th Group of the 
Secret Field Police was attached to the H.Q. of the Sixth German 
Army and together with this group I worked in the towns of Ivankov, 
Pereyaslav, Lubny and Poltava. 

President : Were you in Zhitomir ? 

Retzlaff: I stayed in Zhitomir from the second half of June till 
September. 

President : In all these towns you also took part in the extermina- 
tion of Soviet people ? 

Retzlaff: Yes, in all these towns a group of the German Secret 
Field Police conducted similar activities. 

President : How many Soviet citizens were exterminated in the 
towns in which you were ? 

Retzlaff : In Zhitomir the Secret Field Police alone exterminated 
approximately 5,000 to 8,000 persons. 1 find it difficult to give exact 
figures. 

President: Did you mention at your preliminary interrogation 
the numbers of Soviet people who were exterminated in Pereyaslav 
and Lubny? 

Retzlaff: Yes, I did, but in these towns the extermination of 
Soviet citizens was done by the S.D. organs. I know that in Kiev 
35,000 Soviet citizens had been exterminated, in Lubny — 4,000, in 
Pereyaslav — 2,000. I have no information about Poltava. 

President : How many Soviet citizens were exterminated with 
your direct participation ? 

Retzlaff: With my participation no more than 40 persons were 
loaded into the gas van. In addition, on the orders of Police 
Commissar Meritz, when I was in Zhitomir, I took part in mass 
shootings. 

President : Who else was engaged in the mass shootings ? 

Retzlaff : The entire personnel of the 560th Group of Secret 
Field Police. 

President : Defendant Rezlaw, tell the Court how you trumped 
up charges against workers whom you examined. 

Retzlaff: In April, 1942, I received orders from the Chief of the 
Secret Field Police at Kharkov, Police Commissar Karchan, to examine 
two arrested workers. Karchan warned me that it was necessary to 
convict them of guerrilla activities and obtain from them information 
about their accomplices. During the interrogation I established the 
fact that both prisoners were workers from the Kharkov Tractor Plant. 

I got the impression that these persons were not guilty and I reported 
this to Karchan. The latter asked me whether I resorted to beatings. 




Members of the Tribunal 




The Accused 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



81 



I replied in the negative. Then Karchan ordered me to beat up the 
prisoners. I obeyed his order, but this failed to produce the desired 
effect. 

President : Relate in detail how you carried out Karchan’s order. 

Retzlaff : I borrowed a rubber truncheon from Sergeant-major 
Tichner which he usually used at interrogations and beat the prisoners 
with it. 

President : Did you achieve any results by this means ? 

Retzlaff: I failed to achieve anything by this means and reported 
to Police Commissar Meliss, who then came to the office in which 
I examined the prisoners. Meliss told me that in examinations one 
must display greater resourcefulness. Pointing at the prisoners, he 
said : “Look, this prisoner has a fine beard. Pluck out the hair from 
it and prick the other with a needle.” I obeyed this order too, but 
failed to obtain any result. 

President : You plucked out the man’s whole beard without 
achieving any result ? 

Retzlaff: Not quite so; I plucked out the hair from the beard 
of one prisoner, and pricked the other somewhat with a needle. 

President : Tell us what happened to the workers whom you had 
examined ? 

Retzlaff : In spite of everything I failed to elicit the necessary 
evidence from them. Then Police Commissar Karchan ordered me 
to obtain through the Kharkov Passport Bureau a list of workers of 
the Tractor Plant and to copy out fifteen names. I carried out this 
order of Karchan and next day handed him a list of 15 workers. 
I know that the two prisoners whom I had examined were asphyxiated 
in the gas van and the 15 workers who were on my list were shot. 

President : Did you write a report about these 15 workers ? 

Retzlaff: No, as a rule in the Secret Field Police we did not keep 
any files or write reports. I merely drew up the list and turned it 
over to the Police Commissar and in accordance with this list they 
were shot. 

President : How often did you resort to such methods of 

investigation ? 

Retzlaff: I used this method twice: once in April on the orders 
of Police Commissar Karchan and later on the orders of Police 
Commissar Wulf. This time it concerned workers of a power station. 

President : Who commanded the battalion in which you were 
trained ? 

Retzlaff: The battalion was commanded by Krone. 

President: Who gave you lectures on the extermination of the 
Soviet people ? 

F 



82 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Retzlaff: Judging by their badges, they were leading officials of 
the German Secret Field Police. But as they did not teach regularly 
but only read papers, I do not know their names. 

President : Do you remember the names of the two workers from 
the Kharkov Tractor Plant who were finished off in a gas van and 
those 1 5 workers who were shot ? 

Retzlaff: No, I do not remember. During my work I had to 
deal with so many prisoners that I could not remember all these 
Russian names. 

President : Were you often present when Soviet citizens were put 
into the gas van ? 

Retzlaff: I personally took part only twice in putting people into 
the gas van, but I frequently had occasion to see the gas van because 
I went daily on a round of inspection of Kharkov Prison. 

President: Defendant, describe how people were put on board 
the van, especially women and children. 

Retzlaff: In general the loading of the gas van went off com- 
paratively smoothly, as on most occasions the people were unaware 
of the purpose and destination of this van. But sometimes it happened 
that old men, women or children caused us difficulties. On such 
occasions the S.D. men had to urge them on with rifle butts and sticks. 

President : Do you admit that you were engaged in the methodical 
extermination of Soviet citizens ? 

Retzlaff: I do, although I did all this upon the orders of my 
direct command. 

President : Who gave you instructions concerning the extermina- 
tion of Soviet citizens ? 

Retzlaff: I received orders from my superiors. I also wish to 

add that for years the German people had been trained by the National 
Socialist leaders in the spirit of such a policy. 

President , addressing counsel for defence : Have counsel for the 
defence any questions to ask the accused ? 

Kaznacheyev : Accused Retzlaff, you spoke here about a number 
of atrocities and I will ask you to make it more precise: to what 
extent do you hold yourself personally responsible for these crimes ? 

Retzlaff: Mr. Kaznacheyev, I plead guilty to all the crimes I 
have committed upon the orders of my immediate command. 

Kaznacheyev : For what reason were you, a radio operator by 
profession, sent to a battalion guarding war prisoners and then to 
the “Altenburg” Battalion ? 

Retzlaff: When I completed my training as radio operator, the 
war with France came to an end and therefore they did not use me 
as a radio operator, but sent me to a battalion guarding war prisoners. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



83 



Subsequently, as I was unfit for active military service, and also 
because being a clerical worker I had sufficient training, I was sent 
to the “Altenburg” Battalion. 

Kaznacheyev : I would like to know who selected men for the 
“Altenburg” Battalion and how the selection was made. 

Retzlajf : I was selected for the “Altenburg” Battalion by the 
former commander of the battalion guarding war prisoners. 

Kaznacheyev: How long did you spend in the “Altenburg” 
Battalion ? 

Retzlajf : The course of training in the “Altenburg” Battalion 
lasted six weeks. 

Kaznacheyev : Were all the men of the “Altenburg” Battalion 
sent for service in the Secret Field Police ? 

Retzlajf: No, not all. After completion of the course of studies 
all the men were instructed to write a detailed account of their lives, 
after which some of the students were sent back to their former units. 

Kaznacheyev : Were you immediately sent for service ? And did 
you immediately become a police official ? 

Retzlajf: Yes, precisely so. I was sent as an official and the 
same happened to the majority of the others with the exception of 
only a small number of those who proved incapable. 

Kaznacheyev : You served as a police official for about a year, 
did you not ? 

Retzlajf: Yes. 

Kaznacheyev : I have no further questions to ask accused Retzlaff. 

President : Has the Prosecutor any questions to ask the accused 
Bulanov ? 

Prosecutor : Yes. Accused Bulanov, how long did you serve in 
the Gestapo and the Sonderkommando ? 

Bulanov: I served with the Gestapo from October, 1941, till 
February, 1943. 

Prosecutor: In what towns did the punitive activities of the 
Sonderkommando take place ? 

Bulanov : As far as I know, the punitive activities of our Kom- 
mando were conducted in the city of Kharkov and in Nizhne Chirskaya 
village. 

Defendant Bulanov then gave a detailed account of the brutal 
suppression of the civilian population practised by the Sonderkom- 
mando in Kharkov, in Nizhne Chirskaya village and in other places. 
Employed as a chauffeur by the Sonderkommando , Bulanov was often 
present at shootings of Soviet civilians. 

Prosecutor : Did you personally take part in shooting Soviet 
people ? When and where did this take place ? 



84 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Bulanov : Yes, I did. When I worked as chauffeur for the Gestapo 
I often had to drive to the sites of shootings and also to places in 
Kharkov, in Nizhne Chirskaya and in other areas where arrests were 
effected. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court about this in detail. 

Bulanov : Early in December, 1941, on the orders of the Gestapo 
Chief, about 900 sick people undergoing treatment in Kharkov 
Hospital were shot. 

Prosecutor : What was your part in this affair ? 

Bulanov : I was ordered to bring the three-ton truck at the disposal 
of the Kharkov Hospital. When I arrived there, nine more three-ton 
trucks had arrived besides mine. 

Prosecutor : How many trips did you make ? 

Bulanov : I made four trips during which I brought to the shooting 
site approximately 150 persons. 

Prosecutor : Did you see how the Germans shot them ? 

Bulanov : Yes, I did. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court how this was done. 

Bulanov : When I arrived at the hospital I was told to drive up 
to one of the hospital blocks. At this moment Gestapo men began 
to lead out patients dressed only in their underwear, and load them into 
the trucks. After loading, I drove the truck to the' shooting site 
under German escort. This place was approximately four kilometres 
from the city. When we arrived at the shooting site, screams and 
sobs of patients who were already being shot filled the air. The 
Germans shot them in front of the other patients. Some begged for 
mercy and fell down naked in the cold mud, but the Germans pushed 
them into the pits and then shot them. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court what you know about the shooting of 
children in the Children’s Hospital of Nizhne Chirskaya. 

Bulanov : In the summer, when the S.D. Squad split up into 
sections which left for various towns, districts and villages, I had to 
drive one section of the S.D. Squad to the village of Nizhne Chirskaya. 
On 25th to 26th August, 1942, I, together with chauffeur Blokhin, 
was ordered to get the trucks ready. When the trucks were ready, 
we were ordered to drive them to Nizhne Chirskaya Children’s 
Hospital. Upon our arrival there, the Gestapo men began to lead 
the children out of the hospital and load them on to the trucks. The 
children were ragged, and swollen from hunger. Many children 
resisted and would not board the trucks, but the Gestapo men assured 
them that they were going to their uncles and aunts in Stalingrad. 
Some children yielded to persuasion and got on to the trucks, while 
others resisted; the Gestapo men forcibly put them in and I was 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



85 



ordered to fasten the canvas at the back of the truck. When I had 
carried out this order, I drove to Chirskaya station, escorted by the 
Germans. Here, behind the bridge, at a distance of three to four 
kilometres from Nizhne Chirskaya village, a pit had been prepared 
beforehand. Having reached the pit, I and other Gestapo men, on 
the order of the chief of the section, began to take the children towards 
the pit near which stood the Gestapo man Alex, a German whose 
exact surname I do not know. Point-blank he shot the children in 
the head with an automatic rifle and then pushed them into the pit. 
Seeing this, the children struggled and tried to break away, crying 
“Uncle, I am afraid!” “Uncle, I want to live, don’t shoot me!” and 
so on. But the Germans took no notice of this. 

Prosecutor : What was the age of these children ? 

Bulanov : They ranged in age from six to twelve years. 

Prosecutor : Did you, Bulanov, see the gas van in which people 
were murdered with carbon monoxide ? 

Bulanov : In January, 1942, such a van arrived at our garage 
from Germany. The Germans called those vans Gasenwagen. 

Prosecutor : Did you have occasion to repair it ? 

Bulanov : I had occasion to repair it and clean it. When cleaning 
it and sweeping the inside of the body I saw there children’s caps 
and tiny shoes which had evidently fallen off the murdered children. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court in detail what this van was like, how 
it was designed and how people were murdered in it. 

Bulanov : This machine was a huge two-axled truck of approxi- 
mately five to seven tons capacity. It was painted grey and had a 
six-cylinder engine. The body of this machine had folding doors 
which closed hermetically. It was evidently made airtight by means 
of the rubber lining of the door. 

. Prosecutor : The fining of the door ? 

Bulanov : Yes, the fining of the door. The body is fined inside 
with galvanized iron and there is a wooden grating in the lower part 
of the body. 

Prosecutor : That means that this grating forms the floor ? 

Bulanov : Yes, this grating forms the floor on which the prisoners 
stand. In the lower part of the truck is the exhaust pipe of the 
engine through which the exhaust gas passes into the body. After 
the people are put into the truck, the door is closed, the engine is 
started and the truck is driven to the unloading point. During this 
time the people are done to death. 

Prosecutor: Did you often witness how people were being put 
into the gas van ? 



86 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Bulanov : I witnessed the loading of the van several times and 
the unloading more than twenty times. 

Prosecutor : Which of the Germans was in charge of this van ? 

Bulanov : The drrvei of this truck was a German of about 35 or 36, 
who looked very ill. 1 do not know his surname. 

Prosecutor : And do you know on whose orders this van was used ? 

Bulanov : By order of the Gestapo Chief. 

Prosecutor : What was his name ? 

Bulanov : I am not absolutely certain of the name of the Chief, but 
1 think it was Hanebitter. 

Prosecutor : What part did you take in putting people into this 
truck ? 

Bulanov : It was my job to drive the police to the unloading point. 

Prosecutor : How many times ? 

Bulanov : I had to take them more than twenty times in the period 
from January to June, 1942. 

Prosecutor : How many people were murdered in this truck before 
your eyes and with your participation ? 

Bulanov : When I drove the police to the unloading place we used 
to carry bodies into the barracks of the Kharkov Tractor Plant, after 
which the Gestapo men would set fire to the barracks. When we 
returned, the barracks were already burnt down. Similarly, I had to 
dump bodies into two barracks which already contained a large 
number of bodies. I cannot give a precise estimate, but approxi- 
mately six hundred bodies and maybe more were burned before my eyes. 

Prosecutor : Were these barracks burnt down before your eyes ? 

Bulanov : I only saw that liquid was poured over them but I did 
not see how they were set on fire. 

Prosecutor : Have you ever seen how children and little babies 
were put into these murder vans ? 

Bulanov : Repeatedly. I happened to see Gestapo men on two 
or three occasions putting women and children into the murder vans. 

Prosecutor : What remuneration did you receive from the Germans 
for your traitorous activities ? 

Bulanov : I received from the Germans 90 marks or 900 roubles 
as wages. I also received a soldier’s ration. Furthermore, the 
belongings of executed Soviet citizens which remained after the 
Germans had selected the best for themselves were given to us. 

Prosecutor : Did the Germans send the best things away to 
Germany ? 

Bulanov : The Germans sent the best things to Germany. 

Prosecutor : I have no more questions to ask. 

Presiding Judge : There will be an adjournment until 6 p.m. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



87 



Evening Session, 16th December, 1943 

President: We shall continue the session of the Court of the 
Military Tribunal. Accused Bulanov, did you ever repair the murder 
van ? 

Bulanov : Yes, I had occasion to repair the murder van. 

President: You testified that you took part in shooting sixty 
children ? 

Bulanov : Yes, I told about this. 

President : Did you bring these children to the shooting site ? 

Bulanov : Yes, I did. 

President : Did you lead the children out of the truck ? 

Bulanov : Yes, I did, together with other Gestapo men. 

President : You testified that for your work you received money 
and belongings of executed people. What things did you receive for 
your work ? 

Bulanov : I received overcoats for my wife and myself, also two 
suits of clothes and footwear. 

President: Accused Bulanov, it follows from your testimony 
that you betrayed your motherland, that you sold yourself to the 
Germans for ninety marks, took an active part in the systematic shoot- 
ings and extermination of innocent Soviet people. Do you plead 
guilty to this ? 

Bulanov : Yes, I do. 

President : Have counsel for the defence any questions to ask 
the Defendant ? 

Defending Counsel Belov : Did you tell everything as honestly and 
sincerely during the preliminary investigation as you did here in the 
Court ? 

Bulanov : No. When arrested, I was afraid that in the front zone 
I might be treated cruelly, and I concealed my work for the Gestapo. 
But when I was transferred to a camp I decided to tell the whole truth. 

Belov : Do you know, defendant Bulanov, whether the Sonder- 
kommando with which you served evacuated in time ? 

Bulanov : The Sonderkommando with which I served was able to 
get away in time. 

Belov : I have no further questions to ask. 

President : Have the accused any questions to put to Bulanov ? 

Through the interpreter Ivanov, who interpreted to them the whole 
examination of Bulanov, the accused replied that they had no ques- 
tions. This ended the examination of the accused. 

The Presiding Judge, Major-General of Justice Miasnikov, 



88 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



then announced that following this the Court would proceed with 
the examination of the witnesses. 

The first witness to be examined was Georg Heinisch with the aid of 
interpreter Kopylov. 

President : When were you born ? 

Heinisch : I was born on 8th November, 1901, in the town of 
Neustadt. 

President : Who are your parents ? 

Heinisch : My father is a merchant. 

President : What military rank do you hold ? 

Heinisch : I am an Obersturmbannfuhrer. In the past I was the 
Assistant of the Chief of Hess’s H.Q., and recently held the post of 
District Commissar in the town of Melitopol. My rank corresponds 
to that of major-general. 

The President warned the witness Heinisch that he must give 
truthful evidence to the Military Tribunal and that he would bear 
responsibility under law for false evidence. 

President : Witness Heinisch, the Military Prosecutor has questions 
to put to you. 

Prosecutor : Witness, are you a member of the National Socialist 
Party ? 

Heinisch : Yes, I am. 

Prosecutor : Since when ? 

Heinisch : Since 1923. 

Prosecutor : Were you engaged in active Party work ? 

Heinisch : Yes, I was. 

Prosecutor : What kind of Party work did you do ? 

Heinisch : I was organizer and leader of S.D. detachments in 
Bremen and Frankfurt-on-Main, and political leader of the H.Q. 
of Hess up to 1941. 

Prosecutor : What decorations have you ? 

Heinisch : I hold the following decorations : the Bronze, Silver 
and Gold Medals of the National Socialist Party, and the Badge of 
Honour of the National Socialist Party as a Party member since 1923. 

Prosecutor : What were your occupation and activities while you 
were Commissar in Melitopol ? 

Heinisch : It was my duty to direct the economic management 
and exploitation of the region entrusted to me. I was to pump out 
agricultural produce in order to supply the Army and the German rear. 

Prosecutor : Did the local residents willingly deliver produce to 
you ? 

Heinisch : The population delivered it unwillingly : some of them 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



89 



sabotaged deliveries while others were generally unable to deliver the 
required quotas of agricultural produce. 

Prosecutor : What did you do to the people who did not deliver 
produce ? 

Heinisch : Those who resisted and refused to deliver the required 
produce were arrested by the Gestapo and S.D. squads and liquidated. 

Prosecutor : What does it mean — liquidated ? 

Heinisch : To liquidate means to destroy, to shoot. 

Prosecutor : Thus you were engaged in plunder, and the Gestapo 
in murder. 

Heinisch : Exactly. 

Prosecutor : How many people were exterminated during your 
stay in Melitopol ? 

Heinisch : In the period from 3rd September, 1942, till 14th Sep- 
tember, 1943, between 3,000 and 4,000 persons were exterminated in 
the Melitopol region. 

Prosecutor : Do you know that after the expulsion of the Germans 
from Melitopol 14,000 bodies were discovered there? You are 
underestimating this figure, are you not ? 

Heinisch : This difference is due to the fact that as far back as 
1941 and 1942 during the occupation of Melitopol the Gestapo and 
S.D. had exterminated many Soviet citizens. 

Prosecutor : How many such large-scale operations were carried 
out during your period in Melitopol ? 

Heinisch : During my work in Melitopol there were three or four 
mass operations, in particular in December, 1942, when 1,300 persons 
were arrested at once. 

Prosecutor : Was this on Christmas Eve ? 

Heinisch : Yes. 

Prosecutor : Why were those people arrested ? 

Heinisch : For sabotage and anti-German sentiments. 

Prosecutor : And what was done to these people afterwards ? 

Heinisch : They were sent to Simferopol Camp and there shot 
or finished off in the gas van. 

Prosecutor : Was there a war prisoners’ camp there ? 

Heinisch : Concentration camps were not set up in Russia, but 
war prisoners’ camps were used for this purpose. 

Prosecutor : Consequently civilians were confined in war prisoners’ 
camps ? 

Heinisch : Yes. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court everything you know about the gas 
van. 

Heinisch : The gas van is a kind of prison van, equipped with 



90 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



hermetically closing folding doors, in which exhaust gases from the 
engine pass along a special pipe into the body of the van, thus causing 
asphyxiation of all the people inside. 

Prosecutor : How long have you known of the existence of this 
gas van ? 

Heinisch : I learned about its existence in January this year during 
a conference of District Commissars at which Lieut.-General of 
Police von Alvensleben was present. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court about this conference and what you 
learned there about the gas van. 

Heinisch: Von Alvensleben stated that information concerning 
the gas van had fallen into the hands of the Russians. According to 
Lieut.-General of Police von Alvensleben, the Fiihrer — that is, Hitler 
— had ordered that there should be no further open talk about the 
gas van on pain of arraignment for trial by a special court of S.S. 

Prosecutor : Have you yourself ever seen a gas van ? 

Heinisch : Yes, I saw one in the town of Rovno, but not in action. 

Prosecutor : Did you take part in the extermination of people 
by means of gas vans ? 

Heinisch : No, I did not. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court in detail about your talk with Somann. 

Heinisch : Somann told me that death caused by gas poisoning 
was painless and more humane. He said that in the gas van death 
was very quick, but actually death came not in twelve seconds but 
much more slowly and was accompanied by great pain. 

Somann told me about the camp in Auschwitz in Germany where 
the gassing of prisoners was also carried out. The people were told 
that they were to be transferred elsewhere, and foreign workers were 
told that they would be repatriated and were sent under this pretext 
to bath-houses. Those who were to be executed first entered a place 
with a signboard with “Disinfection” on it and there they undressed — 
the men separately from women and children. Then they were ordered 
to proceed to another place with a signboard “Bath.” While the 
people were washing themselves special valves were opened to let 
in the gas which caused their death. Then the dead people were 
burned in special furnaces in which about 200 bodies could be burned 
simultaneously. 

Prosecutor : Did Somann tell you on whose instructions execution 
by gas poisoning was introduced ? 

Heinisch : Somann told me that in the autumn of 1942 a conference 
took place between Hitler, Himmler, and S.D. Chief Kaltenbrunner, 
at which it was decided to perform executions by means of gas 
poisoning. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



91 



Prosecutor : Will you tell the Court about your attitude towards 
the atrocities of Hitler and his clique. 

Heinisch : As a National Socialist, I am bound to obey the 
Ftihrer’s orders and instructions. However, I repudiate the atrocities. 

Prosecutor : You repudiate the atrocities ? 

Heinisch : Yes, I do. 

Prosecutor: And do you also disapprove of poisoning people 
with gas ? 

Heinisch : I believed gas poisoning to be a humane method, but 
I did not know that death followed after such prolonged agony. 

Prosecutor : Does the witness know of any document formulating 
the policy of the German Government in occupied countries, in par- 
ticular in the temporarily occupied districts of the U.S.S.R. ? 

Heinisch : No, I do not know of such documents. However, 
judging from the utterances of competent leaders I know it had been 
planned to defeat the Russian Army fairly quickly. Considering 
that it would be very difficult to keep the Russian people in subjection, 
the orders prescribed ruthless application of reprisals against the 
civilian population. One was not to hesitate at arrests and shootings 
because this was the only possible way to keep people in subjection 
and to colonize the country. In addition the strength of the people 
was to be weakened by reducing the number of people — i.e., by their 
extermination. In August this year, at a conference of District 
Commissars, Reichskommissar of the Ukraine Koch spoke of the 
difficulties in recruitment of labour power for dispatch to Germany. 
Koch demanded of the Commissars ruthless application of all the 
means at their disposal for dispatch of the required contingents of 
workers to Germany. Koch further stated at the Conference that he 
intended to carry out the forcible evacuation to Germany of the whole 
population of the northern districts of the Ukraine. He said that in 
the struggle against guerrillas the burning of villages and such-like 
reprisals do not yield the necessary results because the guerrillas are 
able to hide in the wooded areas. In order to weaken the stubbornness 
of the Russian people Koch proposed the extermination of all 
unnecessary elements. 

Prosecutor : Did these instructions of Koch reflect the policy of 
the German rulers ? 

Heinisch ; Exactly. 

Prosecutor : I have no more questions. 

President : Witness Heinisch, who is Somann ? 

Heinisch : Somann was Chief of the Security Service of the Breslau 
area. 

President : Was it from him that you learned about the use of gas ? 



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THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Heinisch : Exactly. 

President: In what towns were bath-houses used for poisoning 
civilians with gas ? 

Heinisch : Extermination of people by gas poisoning was to take 
place in concentration camps. 

President : In German-occupied territory ? 

Heinisch : There are no concentration camps in the occupied 
regions. 

President : That means in Germany ? 

Heinisch : Yes. 

President: It is known that 14,000 persons were asphyxiated, 
hanged or shot in Melitopol, whereas you mentioned only 4,000. 
When were the remaining 10,000 persons destroyed ? 

Heinisch : The majority of the Soviet elements were destroyed 
immediately after the town was captured. 

President : That means at the time when advanced units of the 
German Army were passing through there. 

Heinisch : Exactly. 

President : And the population was exterminated by the advanced 
units of the German Army ? 

Heinisch : Yes. 

President: But when the advanced units of the German Army 
proceeded further beyond Melitopol who then destroyed the 4,000 
persons ? 

Heinisch : The Gestapo and Security Service. 

President : And during the retreat of the German Army was the 
civilian population exterminated then also ? 

Heinisch : During the retreat of German troops towns and villages 
were burnt and the civilian population forcibly evacuated. 

President : What were your tasks as District Commissar in the 
event of evacuation of the town of Melitopol ? 

Heinisch : I received instructions personally from the Field Com- 
mandant concerning the forcible evacuation of the population. It 
was conducted by army units. 

President: What instructions did you receive concerning the 
destruction of State and public buildings and dwelling-houses in the 
towns ? 

Heinisch : Houses and institutions in the towns as well as buildings 
of importance for defence were demolished by the Army Commissary 
detachments. 

President : Upon whose orders ? 

Heinisch : Upon the orders of the Field Commandant. 

President : Who was the Field Commandant at that time ? 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



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Heinisch : General Taser. 

President: It follows from your statements that when German 
advanced units captured territory they murdered and plundered the 
civilian population, and after this the Gestapo, Security Service and 
other punitive organs exterminated the Soviet people. Before the 
retreat of the German Army civilians were also exterminated. Is 
that right ? 

Heinisch : I have no right to criticize the Fuhrer’s instructions 
conditioned by the war. (Laughter in Court.) 

President : What do you know of the removal of property and 
valuables from territories occupied by the German Army, and what 
instructions did you receive on this subject from your superiors ? 

Heinisch : I was instructed by the Reichskommissar to squeeze 
out of the population everything not needed by the German Army 
on the spot — this refers to agricultural produce — and send it away to 
Germany. Executive powers to carry out this measure was granted 
to the Commissary detachments under the General Commissariat. 

President : And who exported the property and valuables ? 

Heinisch : This was in charge of the Economic Departments in 
the Districts and Commissary Squads in the German Army. 

President: To whom were the Economic Departments sub- 
ordinated ? 

Heinisch : To the Chief Economic Department under the General 
Commissar. 

President : Whom do you believe responsible for all the crimes 
committed by the Germans, for destruction of towns and villages, for 
extermination of guiltless people ? 

Heinisch : I do not give orders to the Gestapo and Security Service. 

President : Have counsel for the defence any questions to ask the 
witness Heinisch ? 

Counsel Belov : Can the witness Heinisch tell the Court what 
punishment is provided by war-time laws for attempts to evade evac- 
uation during the retreat of German troops ? 

Heinisch : I cannot say anything about what orders there are on 
this subject. 

Belov : And if a man in the Sonderkommando evades evacuation 
during the retreat of German troops ? 

Heinisch : Then according to war-time law he is shot. 

Belov : I have no more questions. 

This concluded the examination of the witness Heinisch. 

President : The next witness to be examined is Kosch. 

President : What is your name and place of birth ? 



94 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Kosch : My name is Karl Kosch. I was born on 27th December, 
1908. 

President: And what was your profession? 

Kosch : I was an architect. 

President : What post did you hold in the army ? 

Kosch : I served in the sappers. 

President : As officer or private ? 

Kosch : I was a sapper. 

President : What was your military rank ? 

Kosch : Private. 

Prosecutor : Tell us, witness Kosch, what you know about methods 
of exterminating the Soviet civilian population practised by the German 
Army. 

Kosch : Besides mass shootings to which National Socialists 
resort to exterminate the Soviet civilian population, I also know of a 
special method, viz., the gas van. 

Prosecutor : How do you know about the gas van ? 

Kosch : I heard about it from my comrades and also saw this 
machine myself. 

Prosecutor : In what circumstances and where did you see it ? 

Kosch : It was early in May, 1943, in Sretenka, near Volnovakha, 
where our battalion was stationed. On that day I had to go to 
Volnovakha on service business. Waiting on the road for a truck 
to take me back to my battalion I saw a big van coming in my direction. 
I took it for a prison or mail van. It stopped near me. An Unter- 
scharfiihrer came out of the driver’s cabin and asked me whether I 
had seen a big truck with S.S. troopers in it. Then he came closer 
and lit a cigarette, and I noticed that he was slightly drunk. I asked 
him if he could give me a lift in the direction of Mariupol. He laughed 
and, taking me to the back door of the van, said: “Well, climb in. 
There is plenty of room in here.” When he opened the door a wave 
of terrible stench came out. The truck was completely empty. It 
suddenly occurred to me that this was probably the gas van of which 
I had heard. I said : “So you want to give me a ride to heaven in 
this truck ?” The Unterscharfiihrer suddenly stopped talking, looked 
grave, and asked me : “And what do you know about this machine ?” 
I answered that I had heard a great deal about the gas van. He said 
that this was a gas van, but I must not say a word about it to anyone 
because the machine was strictly secret. He also said that they had 
just come from a place where 42 Russians had been put to death. 

Prosecutor : From whom did you first hear about this gas van ? 

Kosch : I first heard of it from N.C.O. Haas. Previously Haas 
had been in the central sector of the Eastern Front and he said he had 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



95 



seen the gas van on the outskirts of Smolensk and in Vitebsk and 
Byelgorod. I also heard about it from Winn and Bemhold, who served 
in the 1st Company, 179th Battalion, 79th German Infantry Division. 
These men also said that they had seen and heard about the gas vans 
in the central sector in the areas of Smolensk, Vitebsk and Byelgorod. 
No wonder that all nations now associate the name of German with 
barbarism. The German people may thank Adolf Hitler for this 
and also for the fact that now one is far from happy being German. 
Blood and more blood goes with the whole Hitlerite organization from 
its very beginning to its end. The Hitlerites have had orgies of blood- 
shed wherever they have appeared. It would be most just if Hitler 
and his clique were given a ride in this gas van which they have con- 
ceived to Germany’s disgrace. 

The next to be examined was the witness Jantschi. 

President : Your name ? 

Jantschi replied through the interpreter. 

Jantschi : Heinz Jantschi. 

President : When were you born ? 

Jantschi: 1916. 

President : Place of birth ? 

Jantschi: Vienna. 

President : Education ? 

Jantschi : Higher education. 

President : What post did you hold in the army ? 

Jantschi : I was sergeant-major. 

President : Witness Jantschi, you must tell only the truth. Wit- 
nesses are held responsible before the law for false testimony. 

Prosecutor : Did you serve in Camp 271 ? 

Jantschi : Yes, I did. 

Prosecutor : Who was kept in this camp ? 

Jantschi : Officially only war prisoners, actually civilians as well. 

President : Describe the regime in the war prisoners’ camp and 
tell the Court what you know about the war prisoners’ camp in 
Vyazma. 

Jantschi: In October and November, 1941, there was a war 
prisoners’ camp in Vyazma. 

Prosecutor : How many persons were kept in this camp ? 

Jantschi : When we arrived there were approximately 25,000 war 
prisoners and civilians in the camp. 

Prosecutor : How were the prisoners evacuated from the Vyazma 
camp to Smolensk ? 

Jantschi: The camp command in Vyazma decided to escort the 
prisoners to Smolensk on foot. 



96 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Prosecutor : How many persons were to be escorted ? 

Jantschi: 15,000, 

Prosecutor : Does the witness know how many of these 15,000 
reached Smolensk ? 

Jantschi : Yes, the receiver in the Smolensk camp reported that 
2,000 persons arrived there. 

Prosecutor : What happened to the remaining 13,000 ? 

Jantschi: These 13,000 died on the way from exhaustion while 
some were simply shot by the escort. The prisoners, among whom 
were women, old people and children, were emaciated, poorly clothed 
and barefoot even before they set out. On the way many fell from 
fatigue and exhaustion or died from starvation. The exhausted 
people were shot by soldiers of the escort. 

Prosecutor : Witness, tell the Court how the war prisoners and 
civilians left in Vyazma were quartered and how they lived after that. 

Jantschi : The 10,000 war prisoners and civilians who remained 
were transferred to the building in the area of the plant. 

Prosecutor : Was it in Pekarnaya Street ? 

Jantschi: Yes. 

Prosecutor : Was this building large enough to hold this number 
of people ? 

Jantschi: No. The war prisoners and civilians in this building 
had to stand up day and night and were unable to sleep. They stood 
as people stand in a crowded tram. The building was so packed that 
at first it was impossible to enter it. 

Prosecutor : What was the weather at that time ? 

Jantschi : The weather was very bad, damp, rainy and cold. 

Prosecutor: You said it was absolutely impossible to enter the 
building. And did it become less crowded later ? 

Jantschi : Yes, after a large proportion of the war prisoners and 
civilians there died it became somewhat less crowded. 

Prosecutor : Did many people die in the camp ? 

Jantschi : Of the 10,000 who were there at the beginning 6,000 died. 

Prosecutor : Was medical aid rendered to the sick ? 

Jantschi: There was no doctor in the camp itself, only small 
premises equipped as a hospital. 

Prosecutor : Witness, tell the Court how the inmates of the camp 
were fed. 

Jantschi : There was no kitchen of any kind in the camp. Feeding 
was arranged as follows : The guards’ squads were issued with cases 
of dehydrated cereals in packages. In order to save their labour in 
distribution of the food, the soldiers of the guards’ squads would 




Dead bodies of Soviet civilians discovered in the grounds of the Kharkov Tractor Works 




Bodies of Soviet citizens who had been shot in the Park of Culture 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



97 



stand on the staircase and throw the packages into the crowd of 
prisoners. 

Prosecutor : And could they cook the food ? 

J ants chi : Nobody bothered about that. This method of food 
distribution was considered quite satisfactory. 

Prosecutor : Was everyone given food ? 

Jantschi : No. With such a method of distribution the packages 
of cereals could be obtained only by lucky prisoners in the first row 
and who could catch them in the air, while the remaining mass of war 
prisoners and civilians, including the children, old people and sick 
who were in the camp, could not obtain this food and died of hunger. 

Prosecutor : Were there many children, women and old people 
in the camp ? 

Jantschi : Yes. 

Prosecutor : Witness, tell the Court whether there were cases of 
shooting war prisoners and civilians. 

Jantsi: There were. The guards seized at every opportunity 
to shoot at the prisoners. For instance, during the distribution of 
food the guards shot at war prisoners and civilians with rifles from 
the watch tower. They also fired from machine-guns and flung 
grenades. On the suggestion of Capt. Rzywar, the counter-espionage 
officer, a special order permitting shooting was issued by Major von 
Tittskron, the commandant of the camp. I have already said that 
prisoners who got the packages of cereals were unable to cook them 
because there were no facilities for that. They collected water from 
dirty puddles and drainage ditches to try and cook something. They 
also collected bits of fuel in the camp and made fires. With such a 
number of military people and civilians it was necessary to light fires 
even during the night. The camp guards took advantage of Tittskron’s 
order to open fire not only on those who made the fires, but also on 
those who gathered water from the puddles or wood splinters and 
bits of fuel in the camp. The shots rang out in this camp from morning 
till night. Anybody approaching the camp might have thought that 
an engagement between infantry units was being fought. 

Prosecutor : Witness, did you enter the premises of the camp ? 

Jantschi : Yes, I did, but only after, with all these shootings and 
deaths the camp became so empty that it was possible to enter it. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court in detail what you saw on the camp 
premises when you entered. 

Jantschi: The appearance of the camp after it became possible 
to enter it was horrible. The plot of land in front of the factory 
building was a sea of mud, in some places half a metre deep, and 
hundreds of bodies of war prisoners and civilians were buried in this 
G 



98 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



mud. You could see here and there an arm sticking out or a leg or 
head. There was a particularly large heap of bodies near the walls 
of the factory building. Bodies of shot people lay there. Dying 
people also kept near the camp walls, sitting or standing in some nook 
to get shelter from the cold. There was a large number of ditches filled 
with mud and rain water. Bodies blue and swollen with water lay 
here also. Some of these ditches were used by the war prisoners as 
latrines. In these there were also many bodies. I had never imagined 
that a person could be so emaciated before death. They were so 
emaciated that their bodies were mere skeletons covered with skin. 
Their heads were like bare skulls. Inside the building I saw the same 
sort of thing. There were no windows, the roof was half destroyed, 
and the place was terribly draughty. 

Prosecutor : Were the bodies buried ? 

Jantschi : They began to bury bodies only when almost everybody 
in the camp had died. The bodies lay everywhere in mountains. 
There were five or six hundred of them in the attic alone. Those 
who could still move were given lengths of telephone wire which 
were fastened to the neck, arm or leg of a body which was then dragged 
through the whole camp to a pit dug beforehand, and earth was thrown 
over the bodies. The prisoners who buried bodies knew that in a 
couple of days they themselves would be dumped in the same pit. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court what conditions were in the camps in 
Borissov, Kastornoye and Millerovo. 

Jantschi : Conditions in those camps were the same as in Vyazma. 

Prosecutor : Were there dogs in the camps ? 

Jantschi: There were. Officially dogs were kept to guard the 
camps, but actually they were set on prisoners and also on civilians 
who collected round the camp to find out about the fate of their 
relatives. 

Prosecutor : Did any inspectors visit the camps ? 

Jantschi : Yes, very frequently. 

Prosecutor : And did the regime improve after that ? 

Jantschi : No, conditions did not change. 

Prosecutor : Consequently the Supreme Command knew about 
these horrors in the camps. 

Jantschi : Yes. The supreme Command was undoubtedly 
informed as to the situation in the camps. Colonel Rieth came to the 
camp at Evdakovo and said that he came straight from Adolf Hitler. 
The Supreme Command was not only aware of the regime in the camps, 
but organized it. These camps were in fact not camps for war 
prisoners but camps for the extermination of war prisoners and civilians 
in the Soviet Union. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



99 



Prosecutor : Witness, tell the Court who bears direct responsibility 
for the deaths of Soviet war prisoners and civilians in camp No. 231. 

Jantschi : Direct responsibility in the first place belongs to Major 
Fonst, Commandant of Camp 231, who worked from the beginning 
there until December, 1941 ; then Lieut. -Colonel Gutschmidt, who 
replaced him ; a counter-espionage officer, Dr. Grzewann ; Camp Dr. 
Rabensonfner, and Lieut. Kirns, who was Adjutant and concurrently 
Assistant of the Camp Commandant. Those are the chief culprits. 

Prosecutor : Did you five in Kharkov ? 

Jantschi : Yes, I was in Kharkov. 

Prosecutor : What do you know about war prisoners and civilians 
kept in Camp No. 364 located on Kholodnaya Gora ? 

Jantschi : I lived in the camp on Kholodnaya Gora only four days. 
I came there to collect prisoners for work. What I saw there was no 
different from the conditions in Camp 231. Moreover, Officer Helge- 
mann told me a good deal about this camp. 

Prosecutor : Were civilians also kept in this camp on Kholodnaya 
Gora ? 

Jantschi : Yes. I myself saw civilians in that camp. 

Prosecutor : Describe this camp in detail. 

Jantschi : It was set up in the former prison building. I did not 
enter the building but did go into the grounds of the camp. There, 
too, bodies of dead and dying people who were getting no assistance 
were lying around. They were all emaciated and ragged and many 
were barefoot. Guards drove these prisoners to work with clubs. 
During the four days I spent there an order was received to dispatch 
prisoners on foot to Poltava. They were marched in the same way as 
from Vyazma to Smolensk. The people were so exhausted that the 
majority never reached the destination. A few days later I had to 
ride in a car to Kolomak and I saw that the road was littered with bodies 
of war prisoners and civilians. There were women and children 
among them. Several hundred war prisoners remained in the camp 
in Kholodnaya Gora. But they were so exhausted that they could 
no longer keep on their feet. As I later learned from the soldiers 
who remained at the camp, the war prisoners who stayed there were 
shot not long before the Soviet troops arrived. 

The next to be examined was the witness Boiko, whose evidence 
was translated into German for the benefit of the Defendants, first 
by interpreter Stesnova and then by interpreter Ivanova. 

President : Your name ? 

Boiko : Boiko. 

President : Your first name and patronymic ? 

Boiko : Ivan Semenovich, 



100 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



President : When were you born ? 

Boiko: 1900. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court how you came to be in the service of 
the Germans. 

Boiko : In October, 1941, in Kiev, I went to work as a driver and 
also as interpreter for a punitive detachment of the Gestapo. 

Prosecutor : And then together with the detachment you moved 
to Kharkov ? 

Boiko : After a while the detachment moved from Kiev to Kharkov, 
where we arrived on 16th November, 1941. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court how the citizens of Kharkov were 
moved from city apartments to barracks by order of the German 
Command. Do you know about this ? 

Boiko : Some time later came the order of the S.D. chief concerning 
eviction of residents of Kharkov from the city to the barracks near the 
Kharkov Tractor Plant. 

Prosecutor : Tell the Court how the patients were carried away 
from the hospital in Volchansk and destroyed. 

Boiko : On 12th June, 1942, an order was received to detail 15 men. 
I was included in this number, and I had to go to the town of Volchansk. 
On arrival in Volchansk the hospital was chosen as our quarters. 
The hospital was overcrowded, but Helmrich gave the order to clear 
the hospital of patients. This order was carried out. German 
soldiers entered the hospital and ordered all patients to get ready for 
removal to Kharkov. Everybody began dressing. But when the 
order was given not to put on clothes some of them understood what 
was up and panic set in. They refused to come and had to be driven 
out. The patients rushed the doors, but the Gestapo men stood all 
round and did not let them pass. They fired at those who tried to 
escape and many were wounded or killed. Then loading into a van 
commenced with free use of clubs and weapons. 

Prosecutor : How many people were murdered in this manner ? 

Boiko : The first time they carried away fifty people and then the 
rest. In all 90 were killed, 80 patients, the rest being hospital staff. 

Prosecutor : What do you know about the extermination of Soviet 
citizens, residents of Voronezh, deported on the order of von Radezky ? 

Boiko : When our detachment completed the work we had to do 
in Volchansk we left for Voronezh. When we drove through Byel- 
gorod the Gasenwagen was left there. We reached Voronezh by way 
of Kursk. 

Prosecutor : Did you not arrest anyone on your way ? 

Boiko : On the way from Volchansk to Kursk and then to Voronezh 
arrests and shootings were carried out continuously. On arrival in 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



101 



Voronezh von Radezky issued an order for all residents remaining 
in the town to evacuate it. Those remaining would be shot or hanged. 
The population was ordered to go in the direction of the Khokhol 
settlement. The terrified citizens left with their children in the 
direction of the Khokhol settlement. Some were left there while 
others were sent elsewhere to have their documents checked. 

Prosecutor : How many people were exterminated then ? 

Boiko : About 2,000 people. 

Prosecutor : How was the extermination effected ? 

Boiko : Other drivers and I drove people who arrived on foot in 
the Khokhol settlement to Matrenovka village. On arrival there we 
were ordered to unload the trucks. Those in the trucks got into a 
panic. Those who tried to run away were shot immediately. I 
remember how one woman wept and screamed: “What do you kill 
us for? Do not kill us.” I also remember how one little girl 
entreated a Gestapo man not to shoot her mother. She begged: 
“Uncle, don't kill my mother.” But the Gestapo man first shot the 
mother and then the little girl. 

Prosecutor : Where did you go then ? 

Boiko m This went on there for several days and about 2,000 
people were shot. Then we went to Kursk. When we were in the 
garage in Kursk, driver Hans Hern told me how people were shot 
in Kursk. He said that several trucks drove up to the jail. Arrested 
people were pushed into them and on the order of Radezky they were 
driven to the barracks and shot. Because of ammunition shortage 
25 people were left who were not shot. It was suggested to Radezky 
that they be driven back to the prison and shot next day, but he 
ordered them not to be taken back but killed with spades, rifles, etc. 

Prosecutor : Thus 25 persons for whom no cartridges were left 
were killed with rifles and spades. 

Boiko : Yes, with rifles and spades. 

Prosecutor : And where did you go next ? 

Boiko : Then the detachment left for Kiev. From there the detach- 
ment went to Chemygov to fight the guerrillas, but I fell sick and 
remained in Kiev with a local squad. I stayed at Central H.Q. at 
No. 5, Institutskaya Street. 

Prosecutor : Central H.Q. of what ? 

Boiko : Central H.Q. of the Gestapo. 

Prosecutor : What did you do in Kiev ? 

Boilo : I worked in a garage. Drivers who worked there for some 
time say that arrests and shootings took place in Kiev every day. I saw 
a gas van in the garage. It would leave in the morning and return at 
the end of the day. 



102 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Prosecutor : Witness Boiko, name the Gestapo men who directed 
the mass extermination of Soviet citizens in Kharkov. 

Boiko: Sturmbannfiihrer Granbel, Obersturmfiihrer Feinholz, Ober~ 
sturmfiihrer Kirche, Obersturmfiihrer Fast, and his assistant, Peters. 



Morning Session — 17th December, 1943 

At the morning session on 17th December the Court continued the 
examination of witnesses. As on the preceding days, the hall was 
crowded with people, who tensely followed the proceedings, which 
revealed more and more ghastly details of the crimes committed by 
the German fascist invaders during the period of their temporary 
occupation of Kharkov and the Kharkov region. 

A group of witnesses, including former personnel of the First 
Evacuation Hospital of the 69th Army, were examined. Their testi- 
mony revealed details of the terrible tragedy enacted in the hospital, 
in which wounded Red Army men were being treated, after the capture 
of Kharkov by the Germans. 

“The human mind simply cannot grasp what I saw and liwd through 
in the period of the German occupation,” stated Witness Djinchviladze. 
“In the 8th block of the hospital there were 400 seriously wounded men 
who needed immediate surgical attention. They were either in the 
operating theatre or being prepared for operating when a dull explosion 
occurred. The nurses ran towards me shrieking. It transpired that 
S.S. men had driven up to the hospital, nailed up all the entrances and 
hurled two incendiary bombs into the premises. The first floor was 
at once enveloped in flames. The fire reached the beds of the wounded. 
With their clothes burning, they crept towards the windows. Many 
were so weak that they fell dead after crawling a few steps. Those who 
reached windows and climbed on to sills were shot from tommy-guns by 
S.S. troopers who had surrounded the building. Words cannot 
describe what was happening at that time : burning people ran about 
the wards, but there was no salvation for them anywhere — flames 
raged in the building, and bullets awaited them outside the windows. 
Similar scenes took place on the second floor, which the fire soon 
reached. We managed to conceal a group of wounded on the stair- 
case, and when the S.S. men departed, evidently believing that all the 
wounded had perished in the fire, we pulled them out of the windows 
into the street. Out of the 400 men in this block of the hospital not 
more than 50 were saved. 

“The same fate befell the wounded in other blocks of the hospital. 
Next day an S.S. detachment came again, and mass shootings com- 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



103 



menced. The S.S. men rummaged in all the corners and basements. 
Some of the wounded men were dragged into the hospital yard and 
shot there; others were finished off on the spot. These bloody 
massacres continued for four days. The bodies of the dead lay in the 
yard and in the basements for 12 days. The Gestapo would not allow 
us to bury them.” 

The evidence of Djinchviladze was supplemented by the witness 
Professor Katkov, who at the time of this tragedy was deputy super- 
intendent of the hospital and actually carrying out all the duties of the 
superintendent. His testimony proved clearly and beyond any doubt 
that this monstrous crime had been planned, prepared and organized by 
the Hitlerites beforehand. 

“On the eve of the tragedy,” stated Katkov, “a German officer 
arrived at the hospital and ordered the wounded to be gathered in one 
block which, he stated, would serve as the hospital for the Russians. 
When this was done, S.S. men drove up to the hospital, surrounded 
the block into which we had begun to gather the wounded, and set fire 
to it with incendiary bombs. Those who tried to jump out of the 
windows in their efforts to escape from the fire were shot from tommy- 
guns. Next day the Germans made a round of the other blocks — 
ward after ward, basement after basement. Coming to a ward, they 
would first toss several grenades into it, fire a burst from a tommy-gun, 
then enter the ward and finish off those who were still alive. Wounded 
men who, by some miracle, escaped with their lives, later told me that 
the Germans were accompanied by an officer, who flashed a torch into 
all the corners. On approaching each bed and ascertaining that the 
patient was dead, he would say : ‘Kaput,’ and walk on. 

“Not content with these atrocities the German monsters crucified 
a seriously ill patient, nailing him to the wall in the hospital yard. 
A small crowd of Germans gathered round the crucified man. They 
laughed merrily, and some of them took snapshots of their victim.” 

The audience heard with deep emotion facts cited by the witness 
Katkov, depicting the exceptional devotion and patriotism of Russian 
women who, at the risk of their lives under the German bullets, 
penetrated the hospital grounds, brought food to the wounded men 
who had survived the massacre, and nursed them as their own mothers 
and sisters would have done. Unfortunately the names of these 
women remain unknown. 

The next to be examined was witness Sokolskaya, who was 
employed as a nurse in the First Evacuation Hospital. Her testimony 
fully confirmed everything said in Court by the preceding witnesses. 
She stated : 

“On 14th March I was in the hospital when an explosion was heard. 



104 



THE PEOPLE'S VERDICT 



It was the Germans, who had thrown incendiary bombs. Fire broke 
out in the building. The wounded, endeavouring to save themselves 
from a painful death by fire, crept down from the beds, but the majority 
immediately fell down. Even those who reached the windows failed 
to escape. Germans were watching out for them and shot them with 
tommy-guns.” 

The witness Sokolskaya then described the unprecedented crime 
committed by the Hitlerites in the hospital yard. They had found a 
man still alive in one of the basements. They dragged him into the 
yard and were about to shoot him. One German was already aiming 
his tommy-gun when another said something to him, and both burst 
out laughing. The first German ran off and soon returned with a 
hammer and nails. Both Germans seized the half-dead man, stripped 
him naked and nailed him to a wall for the amusement of themselves 
and other German monsters.” 

A profound impression was produced on the audience by the brief 
testimony of the woman witness Kozlova. During the bloody 
massacre perpetrated by the Hitlerite monsters, her husband, who was 
undergoing treatment in the hospital, also perished. 

“When I came to the hospital,” stated Kozlova, “I could not 
recognize the building. It was a charred ruin. Inside it I saw 
numerous bodies. The whole wing was packed with them. To pass 
from one room to another, I literally had to tread on bodies. Among 
them I found the mutilated body of my husband.” 

The witness Bespalov, residing on the territory of the park, gave 
evidence on the massacres of Soviet people in the Sokolniki Park. 
From the window of his house, at a distance of some 150 metres, he saw 
on three occasions how the Hitlerites exterminated several thousand 
Soviet citizens, including many children, women, and aged people. 

“For several hours,” stated Bespalov, “the Germans drove the 
arrested people to pits prepared beforehand. They were all ordered to 
undress. Those who resisted were beaten up and forcibly stripped of 
their clothes, then dragged alive to the pits and trampled down. The 
Germans collected the things taken from the victims, loaded them into 
lorries, and then drove away singing lustily. A few days later a 
large party of women and children were brought to the same spot. 
The air was filled with loud screams and sobbing. The Germans beat 
the victims with rifle butts, trampled on them, and tore the children from 
their mothers’ arms. 

“Before the mass shooting began many Hitlerites amused themselves 
by selecting victims and shooting them with their pistols. Then the 
mass of people was driven into the pits and shot with automatic rifles. 
Near my garden the Germans dug an enormous pit. For three days 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



105 



they had been bringing arrested Soviet citizens — war prisoners and 
women, little children and very old people. The heart-rending scenes 
there defy description. People wept parting with each other and 
parents pressed their children to their breasts. Some in their despair 
spat into the faces of their executioners or rushed at them with their 
fists. The Hitlerites forced all the doomed people into the pit, threw 
in hand grenades, and simultaneously fired several volleys from auto- 
matic rifles.” 

Bespalov described a further massacre of a large number of Soviet 
women who had been gathered ostensibly to cut down trees in the park. 

Replying to a question of the President, the accused Bulanov 
confirmed the testimony of the witness, and stated that he himself had 
repeatedly driven Soviet citizens for shooting to the Sokolniki Park. 

The next to be examined was the witness Serikov, who testified to 
the circumstances in which thousands of Kharkov residents were moved 
from the city apartments to the barracks of the tractor plant. These 
people were forbidden to move about the streets after nightfall, and 
they were also forbidden to enter houses to warm themselves. They 
were only partly dressed and barefooted ; many of them froze to death 
in the streets. At dawn their frozen corpses were seen lying around. 
Further, Serikov described how he had seen the barracks full of 
corpses. “On one occasion,” he said, “1 was ordered to help clear 
the barracks. I myself carried charred bodies from the barracks 
and put them in trenches. Several times I saw German soldiers 
drive up to the barracks where the bodies were stocked and set fire 
to them.” 

The woman witness Podkopa, residing at No. 8, Rybnikovskaya 
Street, in Kharkov, where the garage of the Gestapo was located, 
helped to fill in the picture of the mass extermination of Soviet citizens 
in “murder vans.” “There were many lorries in the yard of the 
garage,” she said, “but one of them attracted special attention. This 
was a van with a huge body, painted grey. I asked Gestapo driver 
Boiko what kind of lorry this was. At first he refused to tell me, 
saying that it was secret, but then he did tell me. 

“ ‘This lorry,’ he said, ‘is for gassing people.’ One day, I was 
standing out of doors when a ‘murder van’ drove up. All of us were 
immediately told to go indoors. Through the windows we saw German 
soldiers dragging bodies out of the van. Later I learned that the 
‘murder van’ had developed a defect on a trip and was brought back 
to the garage for repair.” 

Witness Gaidamak, who lived in the grounds of the hospital in the 
Lipetsk district of the Kharkov region, testified to the brutal extermina- 
tion of the patients. 



106 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



“One day we saw,” he stated, “a large group of German soldiers 
arrive at the hospital. We all ran into our houses to hide our belong- 
ings, as we knew that when the Germans came, they would immediately 
rob us. We heard a burst of rifle fire. I stole a look out of the 
window and saw a German leading a group of half-dressed patients 
through the hospital yard gates. Then came another volley. This was 
repeated many times. The patients screamed and tried to wrest 
themselves free from the hands of the butchers, but the Germans 
pushed and beat them with the butt ends of their rifles and automatic 
rifles, forcing them towards the execution place. This bloody massacre 
went on till nightfall. Soon after, some members of the hospital staff 
told me the whole story. A German officer came to the chief surgeon 
and suggested that the patients be poisoned. When the chief surgeon 
refused, the officer said he would finish them off himself. He ordered 
all the hospital staff to stay where they were, and himself went into the 
yard to direct the shooting. In this way 435 patients, including many 
women, were killed.” 



Evening Session, 17th December, 1943 

At the evening session on 17th December, the Court examined the 
witness Golovko, who served as a doctor in the Lipetsk Hospital. 

“On 21st November, 1941,” stated Golovko, “three German 
officers came to the hospital — one captain and two lieutenants. One 
of them told me that there was an order to exterminate all patients 
undergoing treatment in our hospital, and suggested that I poison 
them. I hotly protested, and stated that a doctor’s duty was to cure 
people, not poison them. Then the officer asked : ‘Perhaps somebody 
on your medical staff would undertake this assignment?’ I replied 
that there were no such people among us. Nevertheless the officer 
ordered me to gather the medical personnel and inform them of this 
proposal. I submitted to the order and gathered the whole medical 
personnel. As I expected, they unanimously authorized me to tell 
the officer that they refused to become the murderers of our patients. 
I conveyed this answer to the officer, who then stated : ‘In that case 
I shall do it myself.’ I tried to save the patients by saying that if the 
German Command needed the building of our hospital it would be 
immediately vacated. ‘No, we do not need the building,’ the officer 
replied, ‘all that we need is to exterminate the patients.’ He ordered 
the hospital personnel to enter the building, and not to leave it on pain 
of being shot. Then a number of German soldiers entered the yard, 
other soldiers surrounded the entire hospital grounds, and machine- 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



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guns were installed outside the fence on the crossroads. Everything 
indicated that the Germans had prepared this operation with great 
thoroughness and had planned everything down to the smallest detail. 
The officer ordered the soldiers to lead the patients from the wards in 
batches of ten. The patients were taken out of the building and 
ordered to go to the hospital garden. There, in a ravine, were several 
German soldiers with an officer. When the patients approached the 
ravine the Germans opened fire. Some of the patients tried to run 
away, but the German soldiers caught them and killed them. 

“At that moment another car arrived with another German officer 
who stated that he was a doctor and had been sent to take over from 
me the property of the hospital. On hearing the word ‘doctor’ my 
spirits rose and I asked him to help me to put an end to this brutal 
massacre of defenceless patients. The officer stated that his business 
was to take over the property and the rest did not concern him. On 
entering the storehouse this ‘doctor’ first of all chose a sweater for 
himself, tried it on, said ‘ Gut /’ and walked on. 

“Meanwhile the shooting was still going on in the garden. It 
lasted late into the night and was resumed next morning. Almost 
all the patients except for a few who could not walk were murdered 
in that way. The Germans carried the helpless patients into the yard 
and shot them also.” 

President : How many patients were there in the hospital ? 

Golovko : Four hundred and thirty -five. 

President : Were there children and women among them ? 

Golovko : Yes, more than fifty per cent. 

President : Was the building of the hospital used subsequently by 
the German Command ? 

Golovko : No, it stood vacant for more than a year and was only 
used for a short period as a barracks. 

The Court proceeded to the examination of witness Osmachko. 
This elderly collective farm woman had faced a firing-squad and 
survived by mere chance. She stated: “On hearing the sound of 
shooting several of us women collective farmers decided to go to the 
outskirts of the village to see what was happening. I also went and 
took my son Vladimir along. No sooner had we reached the end of 
the village than German soldiers halted us. They ordered us to line 
up along the road and led us to a field. There, near a large pit, the 
Germans were shooting people. They ranged us up along the edge 
of the pit and opened fire. Women screamed and many fell down 
bleeding. I, too, fell into the pit and fainted. When I came to I 
heard shots. Beside me my son Vladimir lay dead. More and more 
bodies fell right on top of me from above. I could hardly prevent 



108 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



myself screaming, but decided that my only salvation was to seem 
dead. I lay in the pit till nightfall and when the Hitlerites finished 
shooting and went away I climbed out of the pit and somehow crept 
home.” 

The President of the Court, Major-General Miasnikov, announced 
that the examination of witnesses had been concluded. After a short 
interval, the Court heard the report of the medico-legal experts. The 
protocol drawn up by the experts was read by Professor Smolyaninov 
of the Second Moscow Medical Institute, Chair of Forensic Medicine. 
Senr. staff member N. P. Semenovsky of the Institute of Forensic 
Medicine, and medico-legal expert of the 69th Army, Major of 
Medical Service G. S. Gorodnichenko answered questions put to the 
medico-legal experts in the morning session of 17th December. The 
chief medico-legal expert of the People’s Commissariat for Health 
Protection of the U.S.S.R., V. I. Prozorovsky, read the general findings 
of the medico-legal experts in the case. 

Findings of the Commission of Medico-legal Experts 

The medico-legal experts examined in Kharkov and neighbouring 
localities the scenes of the crimes of the German fascist invaders — the 
places where they carried out the extermination of Soviet citizens. 
These included the burned-out block of the army hospital, where they 
shot and burned war prisoners — severely wounded personnel of the 
Red Army; the place of the mass shooting of the healthy and $ick, 
of small children, juveniles, young people, old men and women in the 
forest park of Sokolniki, near the village of Podvorki, in the Dobritsky 
gully, and in the therapeutic colony of Strelechye. At these sites 
the medico-legal experts examined the grave-pits and exhumed bodies 
of Soviet citizens shot, poisoned, burned or otherwise brutally 
exterminated. 

The medico-legal experts examined the places where the German 
fascist invaders burnt bodies to destroy evidence of their crimes — the 
poisoning with carbon monoxide. This is the site of the conflagration 
on the territory of the barracks of the Kharkov tractor plant. 
Examination of territories on which bodies were burnt or buried, 
examination of the grave-pits and positions of bodies in them and 
comparison of material thus obtained with data of the Court pro- 
ceedings, provide grounds for considering that the number of bodies 
of murdered Soviet citizens in Kharkov and its environs reaches 
several tens of thousands, whereas the figure of 33,000 exterminated 
Soviet citizens given by accused and some witnesses is only approxi- 
mate and undoubtedly too low. 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



109 



In the 1 3 grave-pits opened in Kharkov and its immediate vicinity 
were found a huge number of corpses. In most graves they lay in 
extreme disorder, fantastically intertwined, forming tangles of human 
bodies defying description. The corpses lay in such a manner that 
they can be said to have been dumped or heaped but not buried in 
common graves. In two pits in the Sokolniki forest park bodies were 
found lying in straight rows, face downward, arms bent at the elbow 
and hands pressed to faces or necks. All the bodies had bullet 
wounds through the heads. Such a position of the bodies was not 
accidental. It proves that victims were forced to lie down face down- 
ward and were shot in that position. In the grave-pits where the 
bodies lay and in places where the bodies had been burnt the medico- 
legal experts found articles of everyday use and personal effects, such 
as bags, sacks, knives, pots, mugs, spectacles, fasteners of women’s 
handbags, etc. The fact revealed by the investigation— namely, that 
before being murdered Soviet citizens were stripped of their clothes 
and footwear — is fully confirmed by the medico-legal examinations : 
during exhumation the experts in most cases discovered naked or 
half-naked bodies. 

In order to ascertain which Soviet citizens were exterminated and 
in what manner, the experts exhumed and examined 1,047 bodies in 
Kharkov and its environs. These included the bodies of 19 children 
and adolescents, 429 women and 599 men. The dead ranged in age 
from two to 70 years. The fact that bodies of children, adolescents, 
women and old men as well as invalids were discovered in grave-pits 
with civilian clothes and articles of domestic use and personal effects 
on the bodies or near them, proves that the German fascist authorities 
exterminated Soviet civilians regardless of sex or age. On the other 
hand, the fact that on bodies of young and middle-aged men were 
found clothes of military cut worn in the Red Army, also articles of 
military equipment (pots, mugs, belts, etc.) is evidence of the 
extermination of Soviet war prisoners. 

The extermination of Soviet people (civilians and war prisoners) 
was effected by means of poisoning with carbon monoxide, shooting, 
burning, and killing with blunt, hard and heavy instruments. All this 
has been established absolutely and irrefutably, by the material of the 
preliminary investigation, the Court proceedings, and proved by the 
medico-legal experts with scientific objectivity. 

The depositions of the accused and the witnesses state that in 
various parts of the temporarily occupied territory of the U.S.S.R. 
the German fascist invaders used specially equipped large vans in 
the bodies of which Soviet citizens were murdered by exhaust gases 
containing carbon monoxide. The medico-legal experts proved this 



110 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



beyond doubt for the first time when examining bodies exhumed in 
the town of Krasnodar and in its vicinity. At that time the presence 
of carbon monoxide was irrefutably established by a combination of 
physiological, chemical and spectroscopic tests of the blood in the 
tissues and organs of the corpses. The same method of poisoning 
with carbon monoxide as was used in Krasnodar has been proved 
by medico-legal examination of some of the bodies exhumed in 
Kharkov. 

The lorry which came to be known as the “gas van” or “murder 
van,” designed to exterminate people inside its air-tight body by means 
of exhaust gases, must be regarded as a mechanical method for the 
simultaneous poisoning of large groups of people. 

Investigation and medico-legal examinations have established that 
in addition to poisoning with carbon monoxide, the Germans applied 
on a large scale, in Kharkov and its environs, mass shooting from 
automatic firearms, firing as a rule into the back of the head, the back 
of the neck and the spine. 

Examination of bodies has also proved that there were cases of 
killing by means of the smashing of the skull and destruction of the 
cerebral cortex by blows from blunt, hard and heavy implements. 

It should be noted that in Kharkov gravely wounded Soviet war 
prisoners were exterminated in an especially painful manner by means 
of burning in combination with shooting. This has been proved by 
the data of the preliminary investigation, the Court proceedings, and 
also by medical examination of parts of corpses found on the site of 
the burnt-down block of the army hospital when, in particular, soot 
was discovered in the respiratory tract of a charred body, which 
indicates that the victim was subjected to the action of smoke and 
fire when still alive. 

The German fascist invaders tried to cover up the evidence of 
their crimes, in the first place of poisoning with carbon monoxide, by 
burning the bodies of poisoned persons. However, the material of 
the investigation and discovery of portions of skeletons of bodies 
which were burnt on the territory of the barracks of the Kharkov 
tractor plant, prove the fact of the burning of bodies. 

On the basis of all the combined data of their investigation — the 
preliminary investigation and the Court proceedings — the medico- 
legal experts have established the presence of : 

(a) A vast number of burial sites in the city of Kharkov and its 
immediate environs. 

( b ) A huge number of bodies in the grave-pits. 

(c) Varying times of burial in various graves. 



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111 



(d) Varying degrees of preservation of the bodies in the same 
graves. 

( e ) Distinction of bodies in regard to sex and age. 

(/) Uniformity of methods of extermination. 

(g) Use of gas vans specially adapted for the extermination of 
human beings. 

We regard the above as proofs of systematic, methodically 
organized, mass extermination of Soviet civilians and war prisoners. 

Chief medico-legal expert of the People’s Commissariat for Health 
Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of the State Scientific Research 
Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat for 
Health Protection of the U.S.S.R. Prozorovsky. 

Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow Medical 
Institute, Doctor of Medical Science Smolyaninov. 

Snr. Staff Scientist of the tanatological department of the State 
Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine of the Commissariat 
of Health of the U.S.S.R., Dr. Semenovsky. 

Chief medico-legal expert of the 69th Army, Major of Medical 
Service Gorodnichenko. 

Pathologist-anatomist Major of Medical Service Yakusha. 

After the translation of the findings of the medico-legal experts 
into the German language, the President, Justiciary Major-General 
Miasnikov, declared the Court proceedings concluded. 



Morning Session, 18th December, 1943 
Speech for the Prosecution 

Opening the session, the President called upon the State Prosecutor, 
Justiciary Colonel Dunayev. 

Speech of the State Prosecutor , Justiciary Colonel N. K. Dunayev 

“Citizen judges, since the treacherous attack of Hitlerite Germany 
on our motherland, the peoples of the Soviet Union learn of new 
crimes each day, new monstrous villainies committed by the German 
fascist invaders in our land. It was comparatively recently that the 
whole world was shocked by the bloody atrocities of the German 
fascist invaders revealed at the Krasnodar trial, and again, at this 
trial, we have learned of the horrors which the German brigands 
have wrought in the area of Kharkov and the Kharkov region. 

“Mountains of bodies of bestially murdered, peaceful Soviet 



112 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



citizens have been piled up by the Hitlerites wherever they have set 
their foot. Thousands of murdered children, of women and aged 
people killed, of sick war prisoners burnt to death — such are the 
ghastly traces left by German occupation. ‘Like the medieval 
barbarians or the hordes of Attila, the German fiends trample down our 
fields, burn down our towns and villages, and demolish our industrial 
enterprises and cultural institutions,’ said Comrade Stalin in his 
speech on the 26th anniversary of the Great October Socialist 
Revolution. 

“Turning over the gory pages of this case, one might think that 
one is dealing with the darkest period of medieval barbarism, which, 
however, has been far outstripped by the German hangmen of our 
times. 

“This is not the first time in history that one is confronted with 
German atrocities. They are universally known. But all that was 
known hitherto cannot be compared with what the German invaders 
have perpetrated in this war on our land. In Kharkov and Krasnodar, 
wherever the Germans have set their foot, the same ghastly scenes of 
crimes, of massacres and destruction, rise before our eyes. The whole 
world sees piles of ruins, heaps of rubble and ashes, in place of the 
flourishing towns and villages of our motherland; deep pits filled 
to the brink with shot, hanged or asphyxiated Soviet citizens. 

“It is a matter of common knowledge that these are no accidental 
crimes of individual Germans, but a thoroughly considered, well- 
worked-out programme for the extermination of the Russian, 
Ukrainian, Byelorussian and other peoples, that this is a system of 
annihilation of the population in the temporarily occupied districts 
of the Soviet Union. 

“It is common knowledge that the extermination of the peoples of 
the Soviet Union was proclaimed by Hitler long before the beginning 
of the war imposed upon us by the German fascist invaders. Hitler, 
Goring, Gobbels, Himmler and their kin are the chief inspirers and 
organizers of the massacres and crimes committed by the Germans 
on Soviet land, in Kharkov, Krasnodar and other towns. Ober- 
gruppenfiihrers and Gruppenfiihrers of S.S. troops — Dietrich and Simon, 
garrison commanders, commandants and gendarmes, Gestapo chiefs, 
German hangmen of all ranks and titles — these are the people directly 
responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens.” 

The Prosecutor then gave a detailed exposition of the monstrous 
crimes committed by the German hangmen in Kharkov and the 
Kharkov region. Citing dates and naming places in which the mass 
extermination of Soviet citizens was effected, enumerating methods 
of this extermination — shootings and hangings, asphyxiation by 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



113 



carbon monoxide in “murder vans,” torture, burning alive, etc. The 
Prosecutor continued : 

“Comrades judges, we have incontrovertible proofs of the fact 
that the German invaders committed all these monstrous crimes on 
the direct instructions of the leaders of the German predatory Govern- 
ment and Supreme Command of the German Army.” 

Further, the Prosecutor emphasized that, as had been proved with 
the utmost precision at the preliminary investigation and during the 
Court proceedings, the mass atrocities and massacres of civilians in 
Kharkov and the Kharkov region were committed by officers and men 
of the German Army and by German punitive organs, namely: 

The “Adolf Hitler” S.S. Division under the command of Ober - 
gruppenfiihrer of S.S. troops, Dietrich. 

The “Death’s Head” S.S. Division under the command of Gruppen - 
fiihrer of S.S. troops Simon. 

By the German “ Sonderkommando S.D in the city of Kharkov 
headed by Stunnbannfiihrer Hanebitter. 

The group of the German Secret Field Police in Kharkov headed 
by Chief Police Commissar Karchan. 

The accused in this case : Wilhelm Langheld, Hans Ritz, Reinhard 
Retzlaff, and their accomplice, the traitor to the motherland 
Bulanov. 

Passing over to an exposition of the specific guilt of each one of the 
accused, the Prosecutor set forth in detail the crimes committed by 
each of them, and fisted incontrovertible legal evidence proving the 
guilt of the accused — their own confessions, the testimony of witnesses, 
the findings of medico-legal experts, etc. Then, referring to the uni- 
versally accepted provisions of international law and also to the Hague 
Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1929, laying down 
the rules of the conduct of warfare, the Prosecutor stated that the German 
fascist invaders cynically trampled underfoot all international regula- 
tions and usages concerning the conduct of warfare in spite of the 
fact that, on 27th November, 1909, Germany joined the Hague Con- 
vention, and on 21st February, 1934, affixed her signature also to the 
Convention of 1929. In this connection the Prosecutor said : 

“Having solemnly endorsed these Conventions of her own free will, 
Germany then cynically and basely violated them, just as she violated 
the treaties of peace she had concluded. ‘Wherever the German 
invaders have set their foot on Soviet territory,’ says Molotov’s note 
of 6th January, 1942, ‘they have brought with them the destruction and 
devastation of our towns and villages.’ 

“Perpetrating the basest outrages against the peaceful population of 
temporarily seized territories, murdering without any restraint old 
H 



114 



THE PEOPLE ’ S VERDICT 



people, women, and children, giving no quarter to the wounded and 
the sick, exterminating war prisoners, the German fascist barbarians 
trample underfoot all the international regulations and usages of war 
and commit capital crimes. The fact that the orders of the higher 
German fascist military authorities prescribed terror and extermination 
of Soviet civilians and Red Army men taken prisoner is altogether 
irrelevant in establishing the responsibility of the German war prisoners 
accused. There are actions whose criminal nature is obvious to every- 
body, and this applies with special force to the monstrous crimes which 
form the subject of the present trial. These crimes were committed 
both on the orders of the German Government and German Command 
as well as on the personal initiative of the accused themselves, who 
issued orders to their subordinates on the extermination of Soviet 
citizens. The accused fully admitted this at the trial. Thus the 
problem of responsibility of the accused for the crimes they committed 
is perfectly clear. The pleas of the accused that they only executed 
orders are untenable. We can refer even to German data of the 
period of the Weimar regime. It is well known that, after the First 
World War, in 1921, the Leipzig tribunal tried to cover up atrocities 
committed by Germans in the war of 1914-1 8. That, as is well known, 
was a ‘legal farce,’ but on one particular point, in order to placate 
world public opinion incensed by the atrocious sinking of the British 
hospital ship Llandovery Castle, by a German submarine, even that 
court was compelled to declare that, although the action of the accused 
followed from the direct or indirect order of their commander, that did 
not absolve them of responsibility, as there could be no doubt that the 
accused realized the dishonourable and criminal nature of their 
commander’s intention. 

“Furthermore, the Washington Treaty of 1922, laying down the 
rules of submarine warfare, holds that any person in the service of any 
power whatsoever who violates any one of the preceding regulations, 
whether acting on the orders of his superiors or not, shall be con- 
sidered a violator of the laws of warfare, and shall be subject to trial 
and punishment as if he committed an act of piracy. 

“It follows from this that the contention that the orders of superiors 
absolve the Hitlerite fiends of responsibility for their monstrous crimes 
should be completely ruled out. Numerous orders of the Hitlerite 
Government and Hitlerite military authorities prescribe such actions 
as, manifestly and beyond the doubt of any person, are major crimes 
and flagrant violations of international law. 

“The German serviceman who sets fire to peaceful towns and 
villages, who shoots civilians, who forces women, the aged, and children 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



115 



into burning houses, cannot but know that such actions constitute a 
travesty of international law and the laws of all civilized countries. 

“As long as on the part of Hitlerite Germany the war bears the 
nature of extensively organized military brigandage, both the inspirers 
and executors must be charged with legal responsibility for the crimes 
committed, as otherwise most of the monstrous crimes committed by 
the fascist criminals will remain unpunished, since the criminals would 
be able to use the orders of their superiors as a shield. The former 
servicemen of the German Fascist Army who are to-day in the dock 
are criminals, and must bear deserved punishment for the criminal 
offences they have committed. 

“The declaration on atrocities signed in 1943 by the heads of the 
Governments of the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R., and Great Britain, warns 
clearly : ‘Those German officers and men and members of the Nazi 
Party who have been responsible for or have taken a consenting part 
in the above atrocities, massacres, and executions will be sent back to 
the countries in which their abominable deeds were done, in order that 
they may be judged and punished according to the laws of those 
countries.’ 

“The defendants Retzlaff, Ritz, and Langheld, who had committed 
bloody crimes on the territory of the Soviet Union, should bear 
responsibility as criminals before the Soviet Court under the laws of 
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 

“Before us, comrades judges,” continued the Prosecutor, “at this 
trial were revealed again and again the sanguinary, terrible misdeeds 
of the Hitlerite brigands who have shed an ocean of blood of peaceful 
Soviet citizens — children, women and old people — who have com- 
mitted many of our town and villages to the flames and to ruin, who 
have brought incalculable disasters and sufferings upon our people. 
At this trial, before the eyes of the world, there has been demonstrated 
and proved again and again the monstrous guilt of all the accused — 
of those who are already in the dock and of those who will yet be there. 
Their bloody crimes have been exposed and proven : by the testimony 
of numerous witnesses and victims ; by the detailed and scientifically 
substantiated data of the medico-legal experts ; by the public and full 
confessions of the accused themselves, and, finally, by the voluminous 
material evidence available in this horrible case. 

“The amount of this material evidence of unheard-of crimes which 
have been committed on our soil by the base Hitlerite invaders is 
incalculable. This material evidence — houses and streets burnt down 
or blown up, mountains of bodies, enormous pits and ditches filled to 
the brink with the remains of absolutely guiltless Soviet people buried 
alive, asphyxiated, hanged, shot, tortured to death — this material 
H* 



116 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



evidence is not far away, citizen judges. It is in the suburbs of 
Kharkov, in the forest park, on the territory of the tractor plant, and 
in many other places converted by the fascist hangmen into the ghastly 
graves of victims in tens of thousands. 

“This material evidence calls for the innocent blood to be avenged! 

“This trial has demonstrated again and again to the whole of 
humanity what horrible, monstrous fruit has been born of German 
stupidity, arrogant self-assurance, and hatred of human kind 
multiplied by the devilish Hitlerite system. Even the great Russian 
writer, Leo Tolstoy, whose grave, sacred to the Russian people and to 
the whole world, was barbarously defiled by the modern Huns — the 
German fascists — when dealing with the stupid, soulless German 
soldiers and their leaders, wrote : ‘What, indeed, must be going on in 
the head of some German Wilhelm, a narrow, ill-educated, vain- 
glorious man with the ideals of a German Junker, when there is no 
stupid or vile thing he says but is received with an enthusiastic “Hoch” 
as something supremely important. ... If he says that at his pleasure 
soldiers must kill even their own fathers — they shout “Hurrah!” If he 
says that the gospel must be propagated by the mailed fist — “Hurrah!” 
If he says that in China troops must not be taken prisoner but killed, 
every one of them, he is not put into jail — instead they shout “Hurrah,” 
and sail for China to carry out his orders. . . 

“The heroic Red Army, led by the great Stalin, has dealt a series of 
shattering blows to the German war machine, and is expelling the 
German bands from our Soviet soil! The gigantic battle being fought 
against Hitler’s bestialized bands by the freedom-loving peoples of the 
whole world, and primarily by the peoples of the Soviet Union, is not 
yet over, but its outcome is already determined. The hour of complete, 
final defeat of the German armies, the great hour of victory is drawing 
near. Our descendants will say with pride that in this battle, without 
parallel for its scale, in this contest between light and darkness, in this 
war in which the destinies of our motherland and the destinies of the 
world were at stake — the first and the decisive blows were dealt by our 
Red Army, by our people who so gallantly and heroically met the 
treacherous invasion of an enemy armed to the teeth! 

“Concluding my speech for the prosecution, I appeal to you, citizen 
judges, to inflict severe punishment on the three base representatives 
of fascist Berlin, and on their abominable accomplice, who are sitting 
in the dock, to punish them for their bloody crimes, for the sufferings 
and the blood, for the tears, for the lives of our children, of our wives 
and mothers, of our sisters and our fathers! 

“To-day they are answering to the Soviet Court, to our people, to 
the whole world, for the felonies they committed on a scale and of a 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



117 



baseness far surpassing the blackest pages of human history, the 
horrors of the Middle Ages and of barbarism! To-morrow their 
superiors will have to answer — the chieftains of these bandits who 
invaded our peaceful, happy land on which our people toiled, reared 
their children, and built their free State. I accuse Retzlaff, Ritz, 
Langheld, and Bulanov of the crimes specified in Part I of the Decree 
of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., dated 19th 
April, 1943. 

“In the name of the law and of justice, in the name of tens of 
thousands of people maimed and tortured to death, in the name of 
the entire people — I, as State Prosecutor, beg you, citizen judges, to 
sentence all four base criminals to death by hanging.” 

Following the speech of the Prosecutor, the President called upon 
counsel for the defence, N. V. Kommodov, S. K. Kaznacheyev, and 
N. P. Belov. 

Counsel for the defence Kommodov began his speech with a 
detailed analysis of the monstrous system of education in fascist 
Germany, which produced such moral and criminal monsters as now 
stood before the Court. It was doubtful, he continued, whether it 
was possible to place on the same plane those who committed these 
misdeeds and those who inspired their crimes. “These men,” he said, 
“were made into assassins by, first of all, killing their souls, and it is 
this doubt which gives me, comrades judges, the moral right to pose the 
question of the possibility of a lesser penalty than that demanded by the 
Prosecutor.” 

Counsel for the defence S. K. Kaznacheyev, while also admitting 
the monstrous character of the crimes committed by the accused 
Retzlaff, said : “It must not be forgotten that Retzlaff served in an 
army of bandits, where human feelings were considered a weakness, 
and ruthlessness and fanaticism a virtue. Nor must it be forgotten that 
the principal crimes were committed by them under the orders and 
directives of the fascist leaders. There is no measure to the crimes 
committed by Retzlaff, but taking into account the facts which I have 
just stated, and notably the fact that Retzlaff was carrying out the vile 
orders of his chiefs, that now he is conscious of what he has done and 
has undergone a psychological transformation, I consider it possible to 
ask that his life be spared.” 

Counsel for the defence for Bulanov N. P. Belov, admitting the 
infamous crimes committed by traitor to the motherland Bulanov, 
asked the Court to take into account the accused’s youth and the fact 
that he had repented. 

The President then gave the defendants the opportunity to make 
their final statements : 



118 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Langheld stated as follows : “Supreme Court: I have nothing to 
add to the evidence I have given. I flogged Russian prisoners of war. 
I issued orders for them to be shot. On my orders, civilians were 
arrested and subsequently shot. But I beg you to take this into con- 
sideration. I am not the only one. The whole German Army is the 
same. I was not the only one to perpetrate atrocities. I do not want 
to minimize my guilt in any way, but I should like to point out that the 
underlying reasons for all the atrocities and crimes of the Germans in 
Russia are to be sought in the German Government. 

“The Hitlerite regime has succeeded in stifling the finest feelings of 
the German people, by implanting base instincts in them. This was 
accomplished both by propaganda and by acts of mass terror, and was 
given particular development in the German Army during the war. 
One might quote the words of the German poet : ‘Accursed evil in its 
turn engendering evil.’ 

“This evil, I repeat, has shown itself particularly during the present 
war. This evil found expression in the orders and directives of the 
higher German military authorities. To act contrary to these directives, 
or fail to carry them out, would have meant to sentence oneself to 
death. I was also the victim of these orders and directives. 

“I beg you to take this into consideration. I also ask you to con- 
sider my age, and also the fact that both at the preliminary investigation 
and at the trial I told the whole truth.” 

The President then called on the accused Ritz to make his final 
statement. 

Ritz said : “Gentlemen judges, the trial is nearly over, and you 
have given me the opportunity to make my last plea. What I should 
like to do, however, is to make a perfectly frank statement of my 
attitude to everything that has taken place here. I want the testimony 
I have given at both the preliminary investigation and at the trial to 
leave you with the impression and to convince you that I have always 
talked frankly about everything, desiring to reveal completely the 
crimes that were committed. As before, so now, too, I have no inten- 
tion of trying to under-estimate the extent of the part I have played in 
these crimes. An atrocity remains an atrocity. I repeat that I don’t 
want to minimize my part in them in the least. 

“However, I don’t want you to be left with the impression that I 
committed murders and atrocities because I derived any satisfaction 
from them or felt any gratification. That is not the case. The thing 
is that I was acting on orders. The cause lies with the entire system of 
orders in the German Army, which compelled me to do what I was told. 
After listening to the speech of the Prosecutor, I would like to ask the 
Court to take into consideration an old principle of Roman Law: 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



119 



Crime under duress. You must believe me that if 1 had not obeyed 
orders I should have been arraigned before a German military 
tribunal and sentenced to death. It is quite clear that the Hitlerite 
system is directed not only against alien peoples, but also against its 
own people should any be found who refuse to obey orders. 

“I beg you, gentlemen of the Court, also to take into consideration 
the facts of my life. When the Hitlerite system came to power I was 
a child of only thirteen. From that time on I was subjected to the 
systematic and methodical influence of the Hitlerite system and 
education in the spirit of the legend of the superiority of the German 
race; an education which taught that only the German people were 
destined to rule, and that other nations and races were inferior and 
should be exterminated. I was subjected to systematic training by 
such teachers as Hitler, Rosenberg, and Himmler, who educated the 
whole German people in the same spirit. 

“At the beginning of the war new propaganda ideas came from 
these same sources, although these were also to be encountered before the 
war. I have in mind the idea that the Russian people were uncultured 
and inferior. That is what they taught us. Then, with total mobiliza- 
tion, I was sent to the front. When I reached the Eastern Front I was 
convinced that there was not a word of truth in these fables of Hitler, 
Rosenberg, and the others; that on the Eastern front the German 
Army did not have the slightest understanding of any tenets of inter- 
national law ; that there was no justice here in all the actions of the 
German authorities. But nothing remained to me but to continue 
along the same path. On the Eastern Front I was also convinced of 
another thing, namely, that a system on the banner of which is 
inscribed the words ‘murder and atrocities’ cannot be a right system. 

“I realize that the destruction of this system would be an act of 
justice. I am young. Life is still only beginning for me. I request 
you to spare my life so that I may devote myself to the struggle against 
that system. I know that I am capable of waging a struggle against it. 
To-day, gentlemen of the Court, I appear before you as an accused 
man, but I am sure that the day will come when the principal culprits 
and instigators of the crimes will be sitting in the prisoners’ dock, for 
they, as this trial has proved, are the principal organizers of these 
sanguinary crimes. I am a soldier, and face a court of soldiers. I beg 
you to weigh everything that I have said frankly and straightforwardly. 
I know that sentence is to be passed — a just sentence which will take 
into consideration everything that I have said here. I have no more 
to say.” 

President: Accused Ritz, take your place. Accused Retzlaff, 
you will make your final statement. 



m 



tHE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



Retzlaff: Gentlemen judges and Prosecutor. I admit my guilt 

in the crimes with which I have been charged. I should like to point 
out that in every single case I acted on the orders of my immediate 
superiors. If I had not obeyed these orders, I should have been put 
in the same position as my victims. All my criminal acts were the 
result of the criminal propaganda of the Hitlerite rulers. They 
drummed it into our heads that the German people are a higher race 
and that other peoples are inferior. They told us that with the 
establishment of the “New Order” in Europe the German people 
would play the role of masters and the remaining people would be 
their slaves. During my period of service on the Eastern Front and 
also as a prisoner of the Russians I had occasion to be convinced 
of the opposite. I had occasion to become convinced that the 
Hitlerite propaganda is a lie from beginning to end. I want to open 
the eyes of the German people to the falseness of the Hitlerite pro- 
paganda. To sum up all that I have said, I beg you to grant me 
pardon and give me the opportunity of returning to Germany to put 
my wish into action. I have finished. 

President : Take your place, accused Retzlaff. Accused Bulanov, 
you may make your final statement. 

Bulanov : I will not attempt to justify myself, because I admit my 
guilt of all the crimes with which I have been charged, which I com- 
mitted under threat of German arms. I admit that I am guilty of 
having helped the Germans and perpetrated bloody atrocities against 
the Soviet people. I cannot express all that I have lived through, 
but I want you to realize it. Working for the Germans, I saw all the 
terrible things they did to Soviet citizens. I ask one thing of you, 
citizen judges, that in passing sentence you spare my life so that I 
may in the future atone for my guilt before the country. That is all. 

President : Take your place, Defendant Bulanov. 

The Court then retired to consider its verdict. 



The Verdict 

In the name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 

From 15th to 18th December, 1943, the Military Tribunal of the 
4th Ukrainian Front, composed of the presiding Justiciary Major- 
General A. N. Miasnikov, President of the Military Tribunal of the 
Front; and the members, Colonel of Justice M. A. Karchev and Major 
of Justice S. S. Zapolski, and Clerk of the Court Justiciary, Captain 
of Justice M. Kandybin, with the participation of the State 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



121 



Prosecutor, Justiciary Colonel N. K. Dunayev, and of counsel for 
the defence appointed by the Court* N. B. Kommodov, S. K. 
Kaznacheyev, and N. P. Bolov, in public session in the city of Kharkov, 
has examined the case relating to the atrocities of the German fascist 
invaders in the city and region of Kharkov in yvhich the accused are : 

1. Wilhelm Langheld, born in 1891 in Frankfurt-am-Main, 
Germany ; German, member of the National Socialist Party since 
1933, officer of the military counter-espionage service of the 
German Army, Captain. 

2. Hans Ritz, bom in 1919 in the town of Marienwerder, 
Germany ; German, has had a higher legal education, member of 
the National Socialist Party since 1937, Assistant Commander of 
an S.S. Company and S.S. Untersturmfiihrer. 

3. Reinhard Retzlaff, bom in 1907 in Berlin; German, 
secondary education, functionary of the German Secret Field 
Police in the city of Kharkov, Senior Corporal. 

4. Mikhail Petrovich Bulanov, born in 1917 at Dzhanibek, 
Kazakhstan; Russian, member of no party* 

All four are accused of having committed crimes detailed in the 
first part of the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the 
U.S.S.R. of 19th April, 1943. From the materials of the preliminary 
and judicial inquiries the Military Tribunal of the Front has established 
that: Having treacherously attacked the Soviet Union and tem- 
porarily occupied part of its territory, the German fascist troops 
under the direct instructions of the Hitlerite Government, despite the 
international conventions on the rules of war signed and ratified by 
Germany, savagely exterminated the civilian Soviet population, 
deporting into German slavery hundreds of thousands of Soviet 
citizens, pillaged, burnt and destroyed the material and cultural 
treasures of the Soviet people. Violent atrocities against Soviet 
civilians were carried out on the territory of the city and region of 
Kharkov by officers and soldiers of : 

The S.S. Adolf Hitler Division, commanded by Obergruppenftihrer 
of S.S. Troops Dietrich. 

The Death’s Head Division, under the command of Gruppenfiihrer 
of S.S. Troops Simon. 

By the German punitive organs. 

The Kharkov S.D. Sonderkommando, commanded by Sturmbann- 
fiihrer Hanebitter. 

By the Kharkov group of the German Secret Field Police, com- 
manded by Police Commissar Karchan. 

By Wilhelm Langheld, Hans Ritz, Reinhard Retzlaff, who are 



122 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



accused in this trial together with their accomplice, traitor to 
the motherland Mikhail Bulanov. 

During the temporary occupation of the city and region of Kharkov 
the German fascist invaders shot, hanged and burnt alive, or 
asphyxiated by means of carbon monoxide more than 30,000 com- 
pletely innocent Soviet civilians, including women, old folk and 
children. Thus in November, 1941, in the city of Kharkov, about 
20,000 Soviet civilians were, under the orders of the Gestapo, turned 
out of their houses in the town into barracks in the area of the Kharkov 
Tractor Factory. Later they were taken away in groups of two to 
three hundred to a gully in the vicinity and were there shot. 

The German Command, carrying out the direct instructions of 
the Government of Hitlerite brigands on the extermination of the 
Soviet people, did not stop at the execution of sick and wounded 
Soviet citizens, including children. Thus in December, 1941, Gestapo 
agents shot 435 patients in the Regional Hospital of Kharkov, among 
whom were many old people and children. 

In March, 1943, the Germans shot and burnt alive 800 wounded 
officers and Red Army men who were undergoing treatment in the 
First Evacuation Hospital of the 69th Army, situated in Trinkler 
Street, Kharkov. 

Many Soviet citizens arrested without cause were subjected in the 
fascist torture-chambers of the Gestapo and other punitive organs to 
terrible tortures and abuse, so much so that they often died during 
the course of the “interrogation.” 

In spite of the laws generally accepted with regard to the waging 
of war, the German Command forcibly confined to war prisoners’ 
camps Soviet civilians in the temporarily occupied areas of the Soviet 
Union, and regarded them as war prisoners. In these camps, by means 
of torture, shooting, starving to death, and the creation of unbearable 
conditions, the mass extermination was effected of war prisoners and 
civilians detained in the camps. 

For the mass murder of Soviet citizens the German fascist invaders 
used the so-called “ Gasenwagen ,” big covered vans which the Russians 
called “murder vans.” The German fascist invaders drove Soviet 
citizens into these “ Gasenwagen ” and asphyxiated them with a par- 
ticularly deadly carbon monoxide. 

In order to wipe out all traces of their monstrous crimes and of 
the mass extermination of Soviet citizens asphyxiated by carbon 
monoxide in the gas vans, the German fascist criminals burnt the 
bodies of their victims. 

During the victorious offensive of the Red Army in the summer of 
1943 and the liberation of the city and region of Kharkov from the 



KHARKOV TRIAL 



123 



German invaders all the monstrous crimes carried out by the German 
fascist criminals were discovered by the Soviet organizations and 
confirmed by the preliminary investigation and judicial proceedings. 

Having heard the explanations of the accused, the testimony of 
the witnesses, the findings of the medico-legal experts, as well as the 
speeches for the State Prosecution and for the defence, the Military 
Tribunal established the guilt of each defendant as follows : 

1. Wilhelm Langheld, being an officer of the German Military 
Counter-Espionage Service, took an active part in the shooting of and 
atrocities against war prisoners and the civilian population, and during 
the interrogation of war prisoners tried to extort from them false 
statements by means of torture and provocation. He personally 
fabricated a number of cases in which about 100 perfectly innocent 
Soviet war prisoners and civilians were shot. 

2. Hans Ritz, being Assistant S.S. Company Commander with the 
Kharkov S.D. Sonder /commando, personally took an active part in 
the torturing and shooting of Soviet civilians in the area of Podvorki 
village, near Kharkov, and directed the shootings carried out by the 
S.D. Sonderkommando in Taganrog, and during the examination of 
prisoners beat them up with ramrods and rubber truncheons, thus 
trying to extort from them false statements. 

3. Reinhard Retzlaff, being an official of the German Secret 
Field Police in Kharkov and conducting investigations into cases of 
arrested Soviet citizens, tried to extort from them false statements by 
means of torture — plucking out their hair and torturing them with 
needles, drew up fictitious reports in the case of 28 arrested Soviet 
citizens charging them with anti-German activities, as a result of which 
some of the arrested were shot and the rest done to death in the 
“murder van.” He personally drove into the “murder van” Soviet 
citizens doomed to death, accompanied the “murder van” to the place 
of unloading and took part in the burning of bodies of asphyxiated 
people. 

4. Mikhail Petrovich Bulanov, having betrayed the Socialist 
motherland, voluntarily sided with the enemy, joined the German 
service as a chauffeur with the Kharkov Gestapo branch, personally 
took part in the extermination of Soviet citizens by means of the 
“murder van,” drove peaceful Soviet citizens to the place of shooting 
and took part in the shooting of sixty children. 

Thus the guilt of all the above defendants of the crimes specified 
in the first section of the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme 
Soviet of the U.S.S.R. of 19th April, 1943, has been proved both by 
preliminary investigation and Court examination. 



124 



THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT 



On the basis of Article 296 of the code of criminal procedure of 
the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the decree of the Presidium 
of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. of 19th April, 1943, the Military 
Tribunal of the Front sentenced : 

Wilhelm Langheld, Hans Ritz, Reinhard Retzlaff, and Mikhail 
Petrovich Bulanov to death by hanging. 

The verdict is final and not subject to appeal. 

Presiding Judge, Major-General of Justice A. Myasnikov ; Members 
of the Court, Colonel of Justice M. Kharchev, Major of Justice S. 
Zapolski. 

***** 

The sentence of death by hanging passed by the Military Tribunal 
of the 4th Ukrainian Front on the German fascist criminals Wilhelm 
Langheld, Hans Ritz, Reinhard Retzlaff, and their accomplice, traitor 
to the motherland Mikhail Petrovich Bulanov, condemned for the 
brutal extermination of Soviet civilians, including women, children 
and old folk, in the city and region of Kharkov, was carried out in 
Kharkov City Square at 11 a.m., 19th December, 1943. Over 40,000 
working people of Kharkov city and collective farmers of the neigh- 
bouring districts of Kharkov region, Red Army men and officers, 
representatives of the Soviet and foreign Press were present in the 
City Square when the sentence of the Military Tribunal was carried out. 
The reading and execution of the sentence was received with great 
satisfaction and stormy and prolonged applause by the working people 
of Kharkov and the collective farmers of the districts of Kharkov 
region who were present. 



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